Hundreds in US Charged in $6B Medical Fraud Schemes

The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday announced charges against 345 people for committing over $6 billion in medical fraud. Those charged include more than 100 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who filed fraudulent claims to federal health care programs and private insurers, according to the Justice Department. The bulk of the fraud — $4.5 billion — was connected to telemedicine, which has surged during the pandemic. For example, the Cleveland Clinic went from averaging 5,000 telemedicine visits a month before the pandemic to 200,000 visits just in April, the Associated Press reported. “Telemedicine can foster efficient, high-quality care when practiced appropriately and lawfully. Unfortunately, bad actors attempt to abuse telemedicine services and leverage aggressive marketing techniques to mislead beneficiaries about their health care needs and bill the government for illegitimate services,” U.S. Health and Human Services Deputy Inspector General Gary Cantrell said in a statement. “Unfortunately, audacious schemes such as these are prevalent and often harmful.”  FILE – The U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building is seen in Washington, July 13, 2018.According to the Justice Department, some telemedicine company executives allegedly paid doctors and nurse practitioners to order unnecessary medical equipment, medical tests and pain medications without interacting with a patient or with only a brief telephone conversation with a patient they had never seen.  “Durable medical equipment companies, genetic testing laboratories, and pharmacies then purchased those orders in exchange for illegal kickbacks and bribes and submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and other government insurers,” according to a statement from the …

German Chancellor Imposes New COVID-19 Restrictions

After consulting with Germany’s 16 regional governors, German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday announced new restrictions on the size of gatherings to prevent the country’s coronavirus infection figures from accelerating.At a Berlin news briefing following her virtual meeting with the governors, Merkel said she wants to act regionally and address the virus where it is surging rather than shut down the whole country, which she said should be avoided at all costs.  “In order to achieve this, we must have minimum standards for certain frequencies of infections,” said Merkel.The German chancellor said in places where there are more than 35 new infections per 100,000 residents recorded in a week, the number of people attending gatherings at public or rented facilities should be limited to 50 and no more than 25 should attend events in private homes.She said that where infections hit at least 50 per 100,000 residents, those figures should be cut to 25 and 10 respectively.Merkel said she expects the rate of infection to rise as the change in weather means more people will spend time inside in the coming months. She said the number of daily infections could rise to 19,200 in three months if the rate of infection continues as it has over the past three months.  “This underlines the urgency for us to act,” said Merkel.The chancellor also discouraged travel to high risk areas in Europe in the coming months, saying staying in Germany was a good option. She said low risk European nations such as Italy …

Zimbabwe Officials Blame Bacterial Disease for Elephant Deaths

Zimbabwe parks authority officials say they suspect a bacterial disease called hemorrhagic septicemia is behind the recent deaths of at least 34 elephants in the northwestern part of the country.The elephant deaths, which began in late August, come soon after hundreds of elephants died in neighboring Botswana in mysterious circumstances. Authorities subsequently blamed the deaths on toxins produced by another type of bacterium.FILE – A combination photo shows dead elephants in Okavango Delta, Botswana, May-June, 2020. (Photographs obtained by Reuters)Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Director-General Fulton Mangwanya said Tuesday they have discovered 34 dead elephants, but suspect more may be found.  The elephants were found lying on their stomachs, suggesting a sudden death.Mangwanya said the dead elephants were discovered in an area between the Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls in west-central Zimbabwe, suggesting to him the outbreak has been isolated.Mangwanya said postmortems on some of the elephants showed inflamed livers and other organs. Samples have been sent to the UK and South Africa to confirm the type of disease.Experts say that Zimbabwe’s current elephant population could be close to 90,000.Elephants in Botswana and parts of Zimbabwe are at historically high levels — roughly half of the continent’s 400,000 elephants, according to estimates — but elsewhere on the continent, especially in forested areas, many populations are severely depleted, researchers say.    …

Robot Arms Perform Tests to Detect COVID-19

The world recently reached a tragic milestone of one million known deaths linked to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.  Experts say more testing is key to combating the virus’s spread.  A biotech company in Taiwan has developed a robot capable of conducting thousands of COVID tests each day, making it possible to safely revive the economy.  VOA’s Arash Arabasadi has more.Camera: Reuters Producer: Arash Arabasadi      …

Why Ghanaian Experts Want More Focus on Colon Cancer

Cancer experts in Ghana lament that little attention is paid to screening for colorectal cancer, leading to a high death rate for the disease, despite its relatively low occurrence. They hope the recent death of American actor Chadwick Boseman, the star of the Hollywood film “Black Panther,” might bring fresh awareness. Stacey Knott reports from Accra.By the time a patient comes to Dr. Clement Edusa with colon cancer, it is often too late. The medical director of the Sweden Ghana Medical Center will see cancer that has been misdiagnosed and spread, as the patient has sought out other treatments, including some from ill-equipped small clinics or herbalists. Edusa says while Ghana does not see many cases of colon cancer, as lifestyles change, he expects to see an increase, and there need to be systems in place to provide detection and affordable treatment. “Definitely, there is going to be an increase. But don’t forget that apart from that, you need to have a structure in place to do the screening,” said Edusa. “So, if you don’t have a national program which sort of pulls in the people to do the screening, you won’t get it early. So, you will have an increase in numbers and people coming late, and of course, more fatalities.” August 29th 2020 – Actor Chadwick Boseman has died at the age of 43. He was born on November 29th 1976 in Anderson, South Carolina and died of colon cancer on August 28th 2020 in Los Angeles, California.While fans have been mourning …

Ghanaian Cancer Experts Want More Focus on Colon Cancer

Cancer experts in Ghana lament that little attention is paid to screening for colorectal cancers, leading to a high death rate, despite the disease’s relatively low occurrence. The death from colon cancer of American actor Chadwick Boseman, who played the lead role in the Hollywood film Black Panther, might bring fresh awareness of the disease.  Stacey Knott reports from Accra  …

COVID-19 Deaths Surpass 1 Million

The COVID-19 death toll has climbed to more than one million people worldwide.  And because of a recent surge of infections in many countries including in Europe and the United States, more coronavirus deaths are expected in the coming months. But there are also signs that death rates are dropping and people who contract the virus now are faring better than those infected early on.  VOA correspondent Mariama Diallo has more.Produced by:  Bakhtiyar Zamanov    …

Ghanaian Oncologists Want More Focus on Colon Cancer

By the time a patient comes to Dr. Clement Edusa with colon cancer, it is often too late.The medical director of the Sweden Ghana Medical Center will see cancer that has been misdiagnosed and spread, as the patient has sought out other treatments, including some from ill-equipped small clinics or herbalists.Edusa said while Ghana does not see many cases of colon cancer, as lifestyles change, he expects to see an increase, and there need to be systems in place to provide detection and affordable treatment.“Definitely, there is going to be an increase,” Edusa said. “But don’t forget that apart from that, you need to have a structure in place to do the screening. So, if you don’t have a national program which sort of pulls in the people to do the screening, you won’t get it early. So, you will have an increase in numbers and people coming late, and of course, more fatalities.”FILE – Chadwick Boseman poses in the press room at the American Music Awards on Nov. 24, 2019, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.While fans have been mourning the loss of American actor Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer a month ago, a beloved actor and preacher in Ghana also met this fate this year.Bernard Nyarko’s son Gideon said his dad’s illness was gradual. By the time he got his colon cancer diagnosis, doctors could do little, as it had spread.“He went to the hospital, but they were not able to diagnose the main source …

British Company Testing Jet Suits For Use During Emergencies

A British jet suit company has teamed with a paramedic service to test the flying suits’ capabilities for emergency use in Britain’s mountainous northern lake district.Gravity Industries released video Tuesday of a recent test of its jet suit in simulated rescue situations in northwest Britain’s vast Lake District National Park in Cumbria.The jet suit company teamed up with local paramedic team Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), which says reaching walkers in distress is one of their biggest challenges.In one test simulation, a paramedic in a jet suit – which, in this case, was test pilot and Gravity Industries founder Richard Browning – was sent up a mountain in a scenario in which a 10-year-old girl had fallen from cliffs and sustained a serious leg injury.Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 14 MB480p | 20 MB540p | 29 MB720p | 72 MB1080p | 123 MBOriginal | 127 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioThe paramedic, following coordinates given for the location of the casualty, follows a hiking trial up the steep, rocky terrain, traveling at about 51 kilometers per hour (kph) and reaches the scene in 90 seconds, traveling a distance that might have taken a rescuer as long as 25-30 minutes on foot.GNAAS director Andy Mawson, who reached out to Gravity Industries about using their jet suit for emergency services, says its lifesaving potential “is just huge.”The suit has an altitude limit of 3,658 meters, …

Scientists Claim Discovery of Multiple Liquid Water Lakes on Mars 

A team of scientists studying data from a satellite orbiting Mars say they have discovered evidence of several lakes of what they believe is salty, liquid water beneath the surface of the planet’s south pole.The discovery, detailed in a study published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy, expands upon a tentative finding in 2018, which was made using data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express satellite.A radar instrument known as the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) produced evidence of what astronomers believed was a large saltwater lake under the ice at Mars’s south pole, a finding that was met with excitement and some skepticism at the time.Since then, the same group of scientists examined 10 years’ worth of radar images sent from the spacecraft and found not only more evidence confirming the original salt lake, but enough for at least three more lying underneath the Martian surface.Confirming the existence of liquid water on Mars is significant, in that it could provide a possible habitat for life.The new evidence came after researchers examined over 100 radar images taken by the satellite from 2010 through 2019. The scientists saw what seemed to be several subglacial liquid bodies ranging in size from just over 19 kilometers across to as small as just under 5 kilometers.The average temperature on Mars is around minus 26 degrees Celsius, far too cold for water to remain liquid at the surface. But the researchers believe the lakes maintain their liquid state due …