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International News Archive
September 27 - September 30, 1999


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This page contains news for the period Monday, September 27, 1999 through Thursday, September 30, 1999.




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Thursday, September 30, 1999

Psychiatric problems in Pakistan more prevalent among married people and the poor

According to a story published on today by the Dawn Internet Edition, about 45.5% of the psychiatric patients in Pakistan are poor people, a study revealed. The study showed that only 12.9% of patients were rich, whereas 42.6% were from the middle classes.

The study on "Mental Health Morbidity Pattern in Pakistan" was conducted by two psychiatrists of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Hamdard University, Associate Professor Dr Amin A. Gadit and Dr Ahsan A. Vahidy.

The study questioned 60 of the top psychiatrists in Pakistan. The story reports there are only 250 psychiatrists in the country for a population of 140 million persons, a ratio of one psychiatrist to 560,000 persons.

The results of the study were presented at the 11th World Psychiatric Congress, Hamburg, Germany, last month.

The five most common mental illnesses reported by psychiatrists in the study were depression, manic-depressive psychosis, schizophrenia, anxiety neurosis and substance abuse. Of these illnesses, depression was the most common and 45% of patients suffered from the illness. The second highest was manic-depressive psychosis at about 20%.

About 58% of mental patients tended to be married. This was considered unusual as generally psychiatric literature has shown that single unmarried people suffer the most from mental illness.


Wednesday, September 29, 1999

German businessman awaits ruling in Iran sex trial

According to a wire story released today by Reuters, an Iranian court concluded a hearing yesterday in the case of German businessman Helmut Hofer, charged with having illicit sex with a Moslem woman.

"The judge is supposed to issue his verdict within a week," defense lawyer Malek-Houshang Qahari told reporters outside the court which met in closed session. "It could be any minute now, or a week from now. I feel that he will be acquitted," he said.

Hofer, who is unmarried, was sentenced to death last year for having consensual sex with an unmarried 27-year-old medical student. But in February the supreme court overturned the death sentence and ordered a retrial.

Under Iran's Islamic law, a non-Moslem can be executed for having sex with an unmarried Moslem woman. The penalty for an unmarried Moslem who has sex outside marriage is up to 100 lashes.

Hofer's defense was that he had converted to Islam when he married a Turkish national some years ago.


Tuesday, September 28, 1999

Death rates lower in wedlock

A story published by the BBC today says that death rates among married people are lower, according to research released by the United Kingdom.

The 'Deaths in England and Wales' survey for 1997 concludes that married men were less likely to die at any age between 20 and 84 than their non-married counterparts. For married women, death rates were lower at all ages beyond 20.

The report says that single, widowed or divorced men in their 50s and early 60s were up to two-and-a-half times more likely to die.

Dr. Yoav Ben-Shlomo, a senior lecturer in epidemiology in the department of social medicine at Bristol University, said several factors were thought to give married people an advantage.

For starters, he said that those with existing health problems were less likely to attract a spouse, and those who developed problems when married more likely to suffer a marriage breakdown.

He also referred to research which "has shown that the sort of women that are considered sexier have physical characteristics which are related to better health. Even height is an indicator of childhood growth and development."

Another possible factor, he said, was that the lifestyle of the unmarried was generally unhealthier than that of the married. "The alcohol consumption of divorced men tended to be higher - perhaps one reason they became divorced in the first place."

Married people, he said, also tended to be better supported psychologically, which has been shown to yield health benefits - and have better access to healthcare.

"If you have a wife nagging you to go to the doctor you are more likely to go," he added.

The survey, released by the Office for National Statistics, includes information on death rates by age, sex and marital status, by cause and general life expectancy.


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