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HEALTH

France’s oldest man dies aged 112

France's oldest man Jules Theobald has died at the age of 112, his family told AFP.

Jules Theobald, France's oldest man, pictured aged 110
Jules Theobald, France's oldest man, pictured aged 110. Photo: Lionel Chamoiseau/AFP

Theobald, who hailed from the Caribbean island of Martinique, a French overseas département, died at his home in the island’s main city Fort-de-France.

Born on April 17, 1909 – though family legend had it he was born two years earlier – the father of three worked as a docker and a fisherman.

In a 2019 interview with AFP he insisted feistily that “if it were down to me I could live until I’m 200! I’ve had a good little life! I don’t have any regrets.”

As recently as March, residents had voted the keen dancer and domino player honorary president of his Pointe des Negres home district.

“He will leave a great void, although his passing was rather expected,” Fort-de-France deputy mayor Steeve Moreau told AFP.

“He loved his district. He knew everybody and everybody knew him – he was very close to people.”

The oldest man in the world is Spain’s Saturnino de la Fuente Garcia, aged 112 years and 236 days as of Tuesday. He was born two months and one week before Theobald.

France was also home to the oldest person ever whose age has been independently verified – Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 aged 122 years and 164 days.

The oldest known living person is now Japanese woman Kane Tanaka of Japan, aged 118 years, 276 days.

French nun Lucile Randon – who survived Covid earlier this year – is meanwhile the oldest known living European, aged 117 and 236 days.

Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura, who died in 2013 aged 116 years and 54 days, was the oldest man ever whose age has been verified.

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HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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