News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week July 10th to July 16th 2003.
COSTA SUMMER HEALTHCARE CUTS
Unions denounce seasonal surgery theatre closures
By Dave Jamieson
TRADES UNIONS AND POLITICAL FIGURES IN MÁLAGA HAVE BEEN SHARPLY CRITICAL OF THE SUMMER REDUCTION IN HOSPITAL SERVICES, SAYING THE COST-SAVING MEASURE WILL HAVE DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS ON HEALTHCARE IN THE REGION.
Unions representing medical staff say the regional health authority is allowing the majority of operating theatres to close temporarily during the summer months. They denounce the policy, describing it as an attempt to reduce costs at the same time the population is swelled by an influx of tourists.
Union representatives say that seven of the 20 operating theatres at Málaga's Hospital Clínico are closed this month, 15 will be closed next month and 10 in September, while at the Carlos Haya Hospital 10 theatres will close during July and September and 15 in August. The secretary of the UGT union in Málaga, Juan Miguel Contioso, says the closures will lengthen the waiting list for surgery - currently at around 9,700 - and rule out routine, major surgical operations in August, but will save the health authority 10 per cent on staff costs. He added that outpatient staff will be reduced by up to five per cent during the same period.
POLICY IS A "CONTRADICTION"
The UGT's complaints were followed by concerns voiced by the Partido Popular's secretary general in Andalucía, Antonio Sanz, that 980 hospital beds in Málaga - and 7,000 in the whole region - are to be kept empty over the next three months. He described the reductions of up to 50 per cent in beds and staff, at a time when the population is multiplied by two or three times, as a "contradiction." Sr Sanz said that the PP will be presenting a motion to the regional parliament that would ensure that service levels are maintained at no lower than 80 per cent, in order to reinforce emergency departments and prevent waiting lists from increasing.
However, the province's Health delegate, José Luis Marcos, assured the public that coverage is guaranteed throughout the summer, with 11,000 operations scheduled, excluding emergencies, which he said is an 8.1 per cent increase on last year. The Health Department also announced that between 12 and 15 additional family doctors, plus other additional staff, are to be posted at health centres in popular resorts throughout the season. The emergency units at Vélez-Málaga and Torre del Mar are also to receive extra personnel for the period.
BRITON AND AMERICAN IN DARING MOUNTAIN TOP RESCUE
Helicopter comes to aid of trapped climbers
By David Eade
TWO MOUNTAINEERS, BRITON LEON ALAN B. AND AMERICAN RUSSELL D., WERE RESCUED FROM A 657-METRE-HIGH PEAK IN THE SIERRA DE FATE NEAR FACINAS BY THE AIR RESCUE SERVICE OF THE GUARDIA CIVIL OF MÁLAGA.
One of the climbers, who lives in Vejer de la Frontera, summoned help by using his mobile phone. He called the Guardia Civil operations centre in Algeciras to say that his partner had suffered an accident whilst undertaking climbing practice.
The Guardia Civil immediately alerted the emergency services in the Facinas area, which organised a rescue team and medical assistance. They summoned help from the Air-Rescue Service because of the difficult terrain where the men were trapped.
The climbers told the Guardia Civil that they were located in the mountains between Facinas and Tarifa. They were trapped in a space between the sanctuary of the Virgen de la Luz and the Almodóvar reservoir, in a very craggy and remote spot in the Los Alcornocales natural park.
JUST IN TIME
The mountaineers were plucked from the peak by the helicopter rescue team just minutes before their mobile telephone battery ran out, cutting communications. They were taken to the nearby Punta Europa hospital in Algeciras.
MÁLAGA HOSPITAL TESTS NEW DRUG AND OPENS NEW UNIT
By Dave Jamieson
Doctors at Málaga's Hospital Clínico Universitario have developed a treatment to help people who have speech problems following brain damage. Eleven patients suffering from the condition, known as aphasia, have been treated with a drug called donepezil over a period of 20 weeks, which, according to lead researcher Marcelo Berthier, produced improvements in their cognitive and linguistic abilities. He said that the drug was effective on every patient, while in six of them there was notable improvement in speech spontaneity, comprehension, repetition and recall of words. The research, published in the scientific magazine 'Neurology', was described by Dr Berthier as encouraging, as it opens the possibility of new therapies for aphasia sufferers. In a separate development, Hospital Clínico Universitario has announced the creation of a new unit that groups together all its cardiology and cardiovascular surgery resources. The aim is to provide a more co-ordinated and speedy service to patients while making savings by cutting down on unnecessary procedures. The new Heart Unit, which takes over responsibility for the hospital's 400 annual cardiac surgery operations and 2,000 echocardiograms, also covers anaesthetic services, emergencies and intensive care.
OVER-SIXTIES TO GET THE NEEDLE
NEWS Staff Reporter
Good news for retired people living in Estepona. Anyone over 60 and residing in the municipality can now enjoy acupuncture treatment absolutely free. It is said to be effective for suffers of sinusitis, gingivitis, arthritis, sciatica, duodenal ulcers and colitis.
The Town Hall is offering a complete range of acupuncture treatments at the traditional Chinese medicine clinic at the Hotel Paraíso. It has come to an agreement with the owners of the clinic, which will provide the free treatment to all patients over 60 years of age.
Acupuncture is over a thousand years old and is recognised by the World Health Organisation for its efficacy in a wide range of treatments. The technique originated in China and involves the placing of fine needles at strategic points to re-establish the vital energy system of the patient.
POLICE BEGIN MÁLAGA BAR CRAWL
By Oliver McIntyre
Regional government has launched a new campaign to stamp out the illegal watering down of alcohol in bars and night clubs in the province of Málaga. The enforcement campaign kicked off last weekend, with the inspection of 14 establishments in Costa towns ranging from Marbella to Nerja.
In the inspections, officers take samples from both open and unopened bottles in the bar's stock. The samples are tested in labs in Madrid and Jerez in order to identify any modification or dilution of the contents. According to Andalucía Inspector General Antonio López Prada, open and unopened bottles are tested so inspectors can identify whether the bar or the supplier is the likely culprit of any tampering. Fines for selling adulterated alcohol range from 15,000 euros to as much as 150,000 euros.
The establishments investigated in last weekend's initial 14 inspections were selected at random. Authorities say the targets of future inspections will be selected based on a variety of factors, including popularity as nightlife hotspots. According to the Junta de Andalucía's delegate for Málaga, Luciano Alonso, officers will triple their number of inspections in the remaining months of this year.
MAYOR TAKES ACTION OVER MARBELLA'S LACK OF TAXIS
NEWS Staff Reporter
Following protests from Marbella's restaurant and hotel industries, Mayor Julián Muñoz has decided to take action over the lack of taxis on the town's streets. He has stated that he believes the 277 existing licences are sufficient for the municipality's needs, but has ordered new controls on where the cabs operate.
Under the existing system, dozens of people might be found waiting at the taxi stops in the centre of Marbella late at night, while at the same time a long row of taxis stands in line waiting to collect passengers in Puerto Banús. Under the Mayor's new plan, only 15 taxis will be allowed to operate in the popular marina area and the remaining 262 will be obliged to serve the main town centre areas.
There will be no additional taxi licences issued in Marbella this year. At the beginning of 2004 there will be a meeting between the Town Hall and the taxi operators to discuss the possibility of an increase in the number of licences. Mayor Muñoz insists that the existing taxis can meet the demands of travellers by observing the new regulations, and says that any cabbies not complying with the rules will have their licences revoked.
IMMATURE FISH AND ILLEGAL HUNTING ANGER ECOLOGISTS
Caleta catches denounced and Vélez birds caught
By Dave Jamieson
AN ECOLOGICAL COLLECTIVE HAS DENOUNCED THE ALLEGED DISCOVERY OF ILLEGAL IMMATURE FISH IN THE MARKET AT CALETA DE VÉLEZ.
The environmental group Gabinete de Estudios de la Naturaleza de la Axarquía (GENA - Ecologistas en Acción) claims that undersized sardines found at the town's fish market were illegal according to fishing laws that seek to protect fish stocks along the Mediterranean coast. The group also alleges that the market's management ignored repeated violations of the law, and that at the end of June "alarming quantities" of the fish, known as 'sardinilla', were auctioned there.
However, the group's criticisms have been rejected by the Junta de Andalucía, which said that its officers made 18 inspections of the market last month and discovered no immature sardines. The provincial Agriculture and Fishing delegate, José María Rodriguez, said that a very small quantity of immature fish had been discovered, but they were of other, less-relevant species. He stated that under no circumstances would his department allow fishing illegal activities, adding that the Junta will continue its ongoing work to eradicate such practices.
GENA has also denounced the Guardia Civil's Nature Protection Services for failing to prevent the illegal hunting of birds around the Río Vélez river. They claim that a species known colloquially as "pajaritos" are regularly caught for food, eaten either by the hunter or sold to local bars. Hunters cut reeds from the riverbanks and lay them horizontally across the water, forming a trap in which the birds get entangled. According to the ecologists, the method is non-selective and the traps frequently catch protected species, thus threatening the area's biodiversity, as well as breaking Andalucía's laws safeguarding flora and fauna. GENA, which says it has previously asked the Guardia Civil to make periodic inspections to stamp out the practice, could not put a number on how many birds of protected species are being killed, but described the damage produced as "very important."
MORE THAN 500 MUSICIANS HEAD FOR JIMENA
By David Eade
More than 500 artists will participate in the third Jimena International Music Festival to be held between July 11 and 19. Amongst the styles of music to be enjoyed are jazz, fados from Portugal, flamenco, classical and Celtic. There will be a 'Peace Workshop' in San Pablo de Buceite, as well as various exhibitions and a traditional Andalucían market in the streets of Jimena de la Frontera on July 18 and 19.
The main venues for the concerts are the sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de los Angeles, the Llano de la Victoría, the Plaza de la Constitución and the Cortijo Román. Ticket prices range from 10 to 30 euros, although all performances in the Plaza de la Constitución, which are largely flamenco, are free.
Amongst the major artists appearing are Martitirio, Enrique Morente (who, along with Maria Joao Pires, recently performed at the Granada Festival), Tomatito, Javier Ruíbal, Antonio Canales, and Mariza and Mercedes Peón, who were both voted Major European Artist in World Music 2003. The festival office is located at Jimena Town Hall, Calle Sevilla, 61. It is open Monday to Friday between 09.00 and 15.00. Tel: 956 648 137. Fax: 956 640 553. Web site: www.jimenafestival.com.
THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS
By Oliver McIntyre
The town of Mijas is collaborating on an EU LIFE experimental composting programme in which wastewater sludge is mixed with plant debris and composted to create an organic soil conditioner. According to data recently released by the Town Hall, the early results of the waste-management experiment look very positive.
The quality of the finished compost is even better than project co-ordinators expected. The levels of bacteria and heavy metals in the finished product are well below allowable measures. The compost has good structure, low salt content, appropriate nutrient levels, excellent water-retention qualities and a nearly neutral pH level. In growth trials, some plants, such as rosemary, have shown as much as a 55 per cent increase in growth rate with regular applications of the rich compost.
So far, 250 tons of finished product have been created in a process that involves two months of active composting and an additional five months of ageing. Researchers are testing the compost in municipal gardens and greenhouses, at Mijas Golf, and at an experimental olive orchard in Jaén. The ultimate goal of the project is to prove the efficacy of turning municipal waste into an environmentally friendly product that can benefit agriculture.