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An atropine sulfate preparation
An atropine sulfate preparation

PARIS — The French government has authorized the country's hospitals to be equipped with atropine sulfate, the only antidote available to certain toxic gas attacks, the daily Le Parisien reports Tuesday.

The decision was made Sunday, two days after the deadly attack in Paris that killed at least 129 people. Authorities had already been considering the move ahead of the upcoming COP21 global climate conference to be held in Paris later this month.

The climate conference, which is set to begin Nov. 30, will draw about 40,000 delegates as well as many heads of state over an 11-day period. Since Friday's attacks, 115,000 security personnel have been mobilized throughout the country.

Atropine sulfate is the only effective treatment for people who have been exposed to neurotoxic gases such as sarin, VX or Tabun. This antidote is usually used to protect soldiers in war zones who may be subject to chemical attack. According to a decree published in the French Official Gazette Sunday, the central military pharmacy will supply the product.

"The risk of terrorist attacks and the risk of exposure to neurotoxic organophosphates are serious health risks that require urgent measures," Chief National Medical Officer Benoît Vallet said in the decree.

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Society

Can Men Help Breastfeed Their Children?

In a tribe in central Africa, male and female roles are practically interchangeable in caregiving to children. Even though their lifestyle might sound strange to the West, it offers important life lessons about who raises children — and how.

Photo of a marble statue of a man, focused on the torso

No milk — but comfort and warmth for the baby

Ignacio Pereyra

The southwestern regions of the Central African Republic and the northern Republic of Congo are home to the Aka, a nomadic tribe of hunter-gatherers who, from a Western point-of-view, are surprising because male and female roles are practically interchangeable.

Though women remain the primary caregivers, what is interesting is that their society has a level of flexibility virtually unknown to ours.

While the women hunt, the men care for the children; while the men cook, the women decide where to settle, and vice versa. This was observed by anthropologist Barry Hewlett, a professor at Washington State University, who lived for long periods alongside the tribe. “It is the most egalitarian human society possible,” Hewlett said in an interview.

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