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Saturday, January 22, 2022

US improves tool to assess cases of Havana syndrome

Mark Polimeropoulos, a retired CIA officer who began experiencing symptoms of Havana syndrome in Moscow in 2017, said government agencies that test people with symptoms, including the Department of Defense, the State Department and the CIA, need a consistent method to do so. The tool could also help focus investigative efforts on cases most likely related to Havana syndrome, he said.

“You need to move from a piecemeal to a whole-of-government approach,” he said. “They needed to consolidate all the reporting mechanisms of the various agencies.”

At the beginning of last year, the Biden administration and the CIA began an intense hunt for what could cause injuries. So far, these efforts have not found any evidence pointing to the source. But some administration officials insist that the injuries are real and that they will continue to look for the cause.

The Biden administration has until April to work out rules for awarding compensation; The State Department and the CIA are working on separate sets of rules. Once they are completed, the law requires the administration to inform Congress. A State Department spokesman said the screening tool plays a central role in evaluating people with symptoms, but is not a diagnostic tool. As a result, the official said, it cannot be used to determine compensation.

While the law is intended to compensate patients for injuries associated with Havana syndrome, it also provides for assistance for various public service-related injuries. Under the law, a CIA officer who suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan could qualify for additional compensation.

Intelligence agencies did not use the verification tool to classify incident reports. However, government officials and healthcare providers said the tool is helping them learn more about the symptoms associated with Havana syndrome and the trauma people experience. This helped people get medical care even if they didn’t meet the criteria for a Havana syndrome case, officials said.

Dr. Pablo A. Selnik, director of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said the program he oversees has helped dozens of patients who were referred to the hospital after being screened with a triage tool. So far, he said, only a few have been diagnosed with the disease.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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