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Plan for clinics to tackle gambling addictions among young people

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GERRY LOUGHRAN

By GERRY LOUGHRAN
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Jack Ritchie, aged 24, secured a degree in history, volunteered for work in Kenya helping potential entrepreneurs, then moved to Vietnam to teach English.

Last November 22, he jumped to his death from a rooftop in Hanoi.

Jack’s problem: he was addicted to gambling and he killed himself when he concluded that he could no longer control his actions.

The young man’s story emerged last week when the National Health Service announced it was to open its first clinic specifically for young gambling addicts. A long-term plan will see 14 clinics established around England to support and treat those affected aged 13 to 25.

Ritchie’s mother, Liz, welcomed the announcement, saying, “If Jack had a referral there, it would probably have saved him.”

Jack started gambling his school dinner money at a local betting shop in Sheffield when he was 17. Along with his mates, he faked an adult ID to play on fixed-odds betting machines, where you can win or lose up to £100 every 20 seconds.

By the time his parents discovered what was going on, Jack was losing around £1,000 a month.

Liz said her son went to see his local GP but the doctor didn’t know how to refer him or to whom. Jack also “excluded himself” from local bookmakers’ premises, but he could not escape online betting firms’ emails or avoid advertisements on Facebook, and in 2013 he began betting again.

From Hanoi last November, Liz and her husband Charles received an email from Jack, “I’m having a bit of a bad time and I feel I need to come home.” His dad sent him £2,000 to pay off his debts, the worst thing he could have done, because Jack used the money to bet again.

After gambling all day, winning heavily then losing everything he had won, he emailed, “I’m past the point of controlling myself and I’m not coming back from this one.” Desperately his parents contacted their son’s friends and they spread out to find him. One knew where he might be and got to the Hanoi street by 7.45pm, but he was too late.

The Christies have since set up a charity, Gambling With Lives, to raise awareness of the suicide risk associated with gambling.

They say research has shown that there are 430,000 adult gambling addicts in the UK and 25,000 aged between 11 and 16.

As many as 650 deaths per year in Britain are related to gambling.

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If you want to be really rich, it pays to be Latino and a super footballer, according to the US business magazine, Forbes, which has ranked the world’s 100 top-earning athletes.

Argentinian Lionel Messi, who plays for Barcelona, is the highest paid sportsman, earning £99 million in the past 12 months. He is followed by Juventus’s forward, Christiano Ronaldo, from Portugal, on £85 million, with Brazil’s Neymar of Paris St. Germain, third with £82 million.

The top three footballers are among 38 non-American athletes on the list, with 62 US stars in the top 100.

The top Briton is world champion racing driver Lewis Hamilton, sitting in 13th place on £43 million. The only woman to make the roll is the American tennis star, Serena Williams, with £23 million.

Forbes calculated the athletes’ earnings by adding up their prize money, salaries and endorsements over one year.

There is a widespread belief among British parents that children should be exposed to harmful germs to build up their immune system. Wrong!

Experts of the Royal Society for Public Health warned in a report released last week that such beliefs are potentially harmful and could expose children to dangerous infections. There is no such thing as being “too clean,” the Society said, and issued an eight-point list of the danger areas for infection, as follows:

Handling food; eating with fingers; using the toilet; coughing, sneezing and nose-blowing; handling household cloths and dirty clothes; caring for pets; taking out the rubbish; caring for people with an infection.

The key to good hygiene is washing hands, cloths and surfaces at the right time, but one in four people think it is not important. The report said people should concentrate on cleaning specific places at specific times, even if they look clean, to stop “bad” microbes from spreading.

A medical student thought it would be interesting, indeed a moral duty, to cure people who suffered from delusions or other mental problems. So he became a psychiatrist.

When his first patient arrived and relaxed on the couch, the psychiatrist said, “Since this is our first meeting, perhaps you should start at the very beginning.”

“Certainly,” said the patient, “In the beginning, I created the heavens and the earth…”

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Our wizards saw the Brave New World, but none saw coronavirus

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By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO

Last year in December, Nation Media Group held its first Kusi Ideas Festival in Kigali. The festival tried to peer ahead the next 60 years in Africa.

There were many Brave New World ideas about how that future might look like, and also the perils that progress almost always brings. Needless to say, no one saw Covid-19 coming.

A futurist curtain-raiser in The EastAfrican, titled Africa in 2079, came close to outlining a mirror universe to the one Covid-19 is bequeathing us.

Between London, Zimbabwe, and the corners of Africa where Econet’s fibre optic network reaches, Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of Econet Wireless and former chair of the board of AGRA wrote:

“I recently invested in a tech start-up that has created an Uber-like platform for tractors, enabling farmers to link up with a central database and order a tractor via SMS…freeing the farmer from the drudgery of the hoe. This service is particularly valued by women farmers, enabling them to circumvent social norms that might otherwise hamper their ability to hire a tractor.” From wherever we are hiding from the virus, unable to roam the farm, Uber farming could be the new way a lot of our food is produced.

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From Tanzania, Aidan Eyakuze, who is executive director of Twaweza East Africa and has been confined in-country as an elegant prisoner for nearly two years because of his love of inconvenient data, painted an intoxicating but strange utopian-dystopian picture of Africa at the end the century.

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By 2079, he foresaw the “vast majority of Africans earn their living through multiple micro-tasking (MMTs) ever since every ”job” was unbundled into its component tasks…leaving only those unbundled micro-tasks needing social intelligence, creativity or dexterity to be done by people. All ”taskers” are always-on private contractors who bid relentlessly for the privilege of tasking.

Incomes are kept low by the relative scarcity of tasks requiring the human touch.

“The unrelenting competition for tasks is both stressful and socially divisive — you are competing against everyone all the time…even marriages have renewable term limits, ‘in case someone better comes along.’” With work-from-home regimes, the former has come 78 years earlier.

Indeed, even for the latter, more people now probably think being cooped up with the same man or woman in the house “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part,” is a very archaic model.

Between Italy and Kenya, the Society for International Development’s Arthur Muliro, peered into a what a truly borderless Africa might look. Among others, his gaze settled on, of all places, Libya.

“Libya…was now welcoming other Africans and allowing them to settle. The peace deal that had come after a decade of civil war was holding and there was new optimism, in part boosted by the arrival and expansion of new migrant groups who had settled there and were helping rebuild their adopted country.”

On a close re-reading, turns out Aidan hinted that Turkey, which jumped in the Libyan fray as the coronavirus made its way out of Wuhan, might have something to do with it.

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Stadiums progress welcome – Daily Nation

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By EDITORIAL

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Last week, the Sports ministry’s top officials, led by Chief Administrative Secretary Hassan Noor Hassan and Principal Secretary Joe Okudo traversed the country to access the ongoing construction of stadiums.

President Uhuru Kenyatta also made an impromptu tour of the Nyayo National Stadium to ensure that all is well besides giving Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed full support. That has made sure that renovation works resume at all the stadiums — including Kasarani, Nyayo, Kipchoge Keino, Kamariny and Wote — and that everything is running on schedule.

Upon completion of some of these arenas, the country will have positioned itself to host major world events, especially in football, athletics and basketball. The ministry must, therefore, ensure that, while it has given contractors an ultimatum to finish their work, it also insists on quality delivery.

But there are concerns about work at county stadiums, especially in Mombasa, where those who redesigned the arena have done away with the internationally approved running track.

The new stadium has been designed for football only hence won’t host any track and field events. The four lane track will only be for warm up and this has raised eyebrows.

Mombasa County Chief Sports Officer Innocent Mugabe said Bububu grounds in Likoni and Kenya Ports Authority’s Mbaraki Sports Club will be upgraded for sports use. Mombasa being at low altitude, it is suitable for staging major World Athletics events, having staged the 2007 World Cross Country Championships.

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Kenya is bidding to host the 2025 World Championships in Athletics and Mombasa can easily be the venue with a good stadium in place. There is still time to build a county stadium.

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Ensure reopening of schools runs smoothly

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By EDITORIAL

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When Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha announced a fortnight ago the postponement of school reopening to January next year, he gave an exception. Universities, teacher training colleges and technical training institutions were directed to be ready to reopen in September.

Consequently, they were asked to put in place safety measures prescribed by the Health ministry, including reorganising classrooms and hostels to ensure social distancing. Just a month to the planned reopening, are those institutions really prepared?

In the past few days, Prof Magoha has convened meetings with the heads of the institutions to plan for the reopening and visiting the colleges to assess their preparedness. Preliminary reports from these engagements indicate that just a few institutions are ready.

POOR STATE

At the university level, so far, only Strathmore has been declared ready for reopening. Ensure reopening of schools runs smoothly

For teachers’ colleges, three — Murang’a, Kibabii and Kericho — have met the threshold. Assessment is ongoing for the technical training institutions.

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But the broad observation is that most of the institutions are not ready. Though not surprising, most of them are ordinarily in poor state and Covid-19 has just exposed them. Beyond the situation, long-term actions are required to revamp and revitalise them.

Reopening the colleges in September will be the starting point for relaxing restrictions in the education sector. The reason for beginning with colleges is that they have mature students who understand the health protocols and can, therefore, take care of themselves and minimise infections. Their experience would then inform plans for reopening primary and secondary schools.

REPEAT CLASSES

Closure of schools and colleges has dealt a huge blow to education. Learners in schools have lost a whole year and have to repeat classes next year. This comes with high social, economic and psychological. Indeed, this is the first time in history that schools are being closed for a year.

The last time the education sector suffered most was in 1982, when, following an abortive coup, the University of Nairobi and then-Kenyatta University College were closed for nine months. That created a major backlog and that took five years to clear. This is the reason steps should be taken at the earliest opportunity to mitigate the damage.

The challenge, therefore, is for the colleges to work on those health protocols to prepare for reopening. All other sectors, such as transport and tourism, are reopening and, therefore, colleges have no reason to lag behind. We ask the management of the institutions to expedite the required processes and get ready for reopening in September as directed.

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