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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Journalists working in electronic media need training: Mahmood Sham


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Noted journalist, writer and thinker, Mahmood Sham, has reckoned that the journalists in electronic media are less skilful and trained in comparison to those in the print media and there was a need to hold workshops for their training.

He was replying to questions from participants on the occasion of the launch of his book ‘Indifference in the time of extremism’ held in Karachi. 

On the occasion, the author read out selected excerpts from his book and observed that electronic media did commit errors but there was no doubt about the talent and wisdom of people attached to this sector. 

He was of the opinion that there’s a vast gap of technology between the electronic and print media as electronic is much ahead of print media but those in print media are literary in nature and take advantage of libraries. 

In journalism, he viewed, no one can be made a reporter or sub-editor with out proper training whereas in electronic media get hold of the microphone on the very first day.

He told a questioner that he was satisfied with his career and he didn’t feel repentance on adopting any other profession. 

To a question from the resident editor of Nawa-e-Waqt, Amin Yousuf, Mahmood Sham recalled that the journalists’ movement of early 1970s was much bigger than that of 1978 when newspapers did not publish throughout the country for nine days and the government shunted out 200 journalists. 

Speaking on the occasion Prof Tausif Ahmed said that official secretariat was in vogue even today. He recalled that Mahmood Sham was the first to become victim of attack on press and at that time official secret comes under the purview of treachery. 

Others who put questions to Shamji were Agha Masood, Kazi Asad Abid, Yawar Mehdi and Aijazul Yaqin. Mahmood Sham said that Roedad Khan who today was championing the cause of democracy and revolution had been in the forefront during his time in putting restrictions on him and the press.

Sir Syed’s bicentennial birth anniversary celebrations underway

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA), in collaboration with Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) plans to hold numerous programmes during the current year to celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of the legendary reformer and educationist, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan befittingly.

This was stated by AMUOBA President, Jawaid Anwar, who is also the Chancellor of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), in his latest interview. 

 Preparations were in full swing and the events would include a conference and a seminar, besides the celebration of the Sir Syed Day in a grand style this year. 

Sir Syed Day is celebrated every year on October 17 but this year will mark the 200th birth anniversary of the great reformer and educationist. 

Jawaid Anwar informed that the celebration activities had already started and in that regard two lectures on the life, achievements, mission and philosophy of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan had been held. The lectures were delivered by Prof. Islahi who specially came from Aligarh for the purpose. 

“We plan to hold a Bio-medical conference dedicated to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan later this year. We will also organize a quiz competition on Sir Syed while the Sir Syed Memorial Lecture is also included in our plans", 

Chancellor Jawaid Anwar informed adding that as many as three books on Sir Syed will be published and launched to highlight his monumental contribution. 

The AMUOBA President said that the concept of social reforms of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was based upon acquisition of modern scientific education. 

The key ingredients of his concept are proper upbringing, character building and tolerance and the Aligarh Muslim University proved to be the laboratory where these concepts were experimented, which produced students who possessed the above traits. The positive result of this experiment was the establishment of Pakistan, Jawaid Anwar stated.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Pakistan’s forgotten sports heroes honoured


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s forgotten national sports heroes in boxing, cycling and football who brought glories to the country in Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and other international competitions were honoured at a grand function organised by Sherwani Sports Trust on May 25.

Those who to be honoured on the occasion included Olympic boxer and Asian and CW Games medal winner Meherullah Lassi, South Asian Boxing Games Champion Rasheed Qambrani. 

Financial assistance was also extended to to distressed sportsmen of yesteryears and the beneficiaries included boxer Azeem Jan, cyclist Sher Haider, footballers Jan Mohammad Baloch, Mohammad Sharif and Jafar Alam and former Olympic referee/judge Ali Akbar Shah. 

They were also awarded shields and mementos as a token of acknowledgement of their heroic feats Sherwani Motors set a noble example by distributing cash awards worth Rs 200, 000 among the needy sportsmen. 

In an emotional discourse, the 2002 Busan Asian Games gold medalist Meherullah Lassi complimented and lauded Sherwani Trust for coming forward and supporting and assisting those neglected sportsmen mostly from Lyari area. 

“They may be from the past but continue to be counted as national heroes and deserve respect and support from the nation,” he observed. 

He hoped that more organizations will feel their responsibilities towards the neglected heroes in the field of sports and follow this noble gesture demonstrated by Sherwani Sports Trust and assist these poor, needy and jobless sportsmen.

“The basic purpose of holding this program was to support and assist those needy sportsmen, who were neglected despite their achievements for Pakistan,” Shujaat Sherwani, the chairman of the trust, stated. 

“We are really honoured with the presence of galaxy of international sportsmen with us. It’s the duty of the society to support these great men, who served the country bringing honor and dignity in international sports arena. It is always a great sight and feeling when Pakistan flag is raised and national anthem is played at the international stage,” he said in an emotional tone. 

Shujaat Sherwani also announced scholarships to highly talented boys and girls, specially from Lyari who may show bright prospects for the country in coming months. 

Describing the assistance extended as meager token assistance for financially distressed sportsmen, Shujaat said our dream is that Pakistan should regain its lost glory in hockey and other sports in Asian Games and Olympics. 

Shujaat Sherwani pointed out that in order to achieve the cherished objective he was also running a free cricket academy and hockey club and staged Motorsports Really in Hub and Nooriabad in recent months. 

Speaking on the occasion Justice (Rtd) Zafar Sherwani, who was the guest of honour, expressed his delighted to be standing among the heroes of the country, reckoning that sports can play a vital role in the development of youth of the nation. 

Justice Zafar expressed dismay that Pakistan once a great sporting nation of the continent failed to win a single medal in Muslim Solidarity Games held in Baku where small host nation Azerbaijan emerged on the top. 

On the occasion Meherullah and Rasheed Qambrani also planted trees as part of the ongoing Go Green Karachi slogan.

AMUOBA celebrating Sir Syed’s 200th birth anniversary befittingly


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA) in collaboration with Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) has chalked out numerous programs during the current year to celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of the legendary reformer and educationist, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, in a most befitting manner.

This was disclosed by the AMUOBA President, Jawaid Anwar, who is also the Chancellor of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET). 

He said that the preparations were in full swing in this regard and the events to be held would include a conference and a seminar besides the celebration of the Sir Syed Day in a grand style this year. 

“We plan to hold a bio-medical conference dedicated to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan later this year. We will organize a quiz competition on Sir Syed while the Sir Syed Memorial Lecture is also included in our plans. As many as three books on Sir Syed will be published and launched to highlight his monumental contribution,” the AMUOBA President revealed. 

The AMUOBA President reckoned that the concept of social reforms of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was based upon acquisition of modern scientific education. 

The key ingredients of this concept are proper upbringing, character building and tolerance and the Aligarh Muslim University proved to be the laboratory where these concepts were experimented, which produced students who possessed the above traits. The positive result of this experiment was the establishment of Pakistan.

IBA, Shanghai University to collaborate in masters programme


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Dr Farrukh Iqbal, Dean & Director, Institute of Business Administration (IBA) and Dr Nasir Afghan, Assistant Professor & Director, MBA Programme, IBA, participated in the 2nd Belt and Road Initiative University Presidents' Forum’ at the Shanghai University in China recently. 

Focusing on the theme, ‘Innovative Talent Development in University’, the forum brought together eminent educationists and academics from the countries across the proposed belt; providing an excellent platform to exchange insights and to encourage collaboration on agendas, such as university development and innovative talent development. 

During the visit, Dr. Farrukh Iqbal, on behalf of IBA Karachi signed an MoU with Prof. Jin Donghan, President, Shanghai University China, to collaboratively offer a ‘Master of Finance’ programme between IBA Karachi and Shanghai University China.

Having been established in, IBA, located in the bustling port city of Karachi, is the oldest business school outside North America. 

Initially the technical support was provided by the world famous Wharton School of Finance, University of Pennsylvania while later, the University of Southern California set up various facilities at the Institute and several prominent American professors were assigned to the IBA. 

The course contents, the curriculum, the pedagogical tools and the assessment and testing methods, developed under the guidance of reputed scholars from these two institutions, laid strong foundation for IBA which has persued the high standards and academic traditions it had inherited from Wharton and USC while adapting and adjusting them with the passage of time.

Founded in 1922 and immersed in the distinguished heritage and pioneering track record in a leading global city, Shanghai University is situated in the heart of Shanghai. 

They combine educational achievement with forward-looking courses, attuned to the latest city developments in science, technology and culture. 

Shanghai University is a member university of the national project 211 and is a research-intensive and comprehensive university. 

The university has witnessed continuous progress and advancement, have a clear and vibrant educational mission, with far-sighted objectives to cultivate talents with all-around development, global perspective and creative awareness. 

Shanghai University is also known for its vigorous international exchanges and cooperation. So far the University has established academic links and cooperation with dozens of foreign universities, including faculty and student exchanges. Currently, over 4,000 international students are studying on Shanghai University campuses.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pakistan has potential for renewable sources of energy: SSUET VC


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Vice-Chancellor Sir Syed University of Engineering and Tchnology (SSUET), Prof Dr Mohammad Afzal Haque, has said that the consumption of electricity was generally considered as an index of economic prosperity and technological progress of a country and Pakistan as a developing country was experiencing growing demand for electricity.

"Pakistan’s energy requirement is growing rapidly due to an increase in population and high energy intensive industrial sector", he observed and added that there is enormous shortfall in demand and supply of electricity in the country. 

He stated this in a message on the occasion of 2nd International Electrical Conference 2017 being held under the auspices of Institute of Engineers Pakistan (IEP). According to him the demand for electricity was nearly 24,000 MW. 

Due to weak transmission and distribution system there was a short fall of over 6000 to 7000 MW requiring long hours of load shedding. 

Dr Afzal pointed out that the mainstay of energy in Pakistan has always been fossil fuel using furnace oil which has to be imported using foreign exchange. 

He said the oil prices fluctuate with the passage of time, depending upon global economic conditions. With the rising fossil fuel prices, the cost of oil import is creating problem for foreign exchange reserves. 

The rising oil prices along with the rising demand for uninterrupted power, is an additional pressure on the already fragile energy grid of Pakistan. Our country, the SSUET's VC said, is yet to fully diversify our energy mix and reduce dependency upon use of furnace oil.

He said that Pakistan has potential for renewable sources of energy. Sindh-Balochistan coastal belt has wind corridor and can be utilized to produce abundant wind energy. Pakistan is one of those countries that have sunlight throughout 365 days and solar energy could be another option. 

"We are yet to fully utilize Thar coal reserves for energy generation, Northern part of country is rich for generation of hydro energy. We must develop renewable sources up to the optimal level". 

He was sure that experts at the seminar would come up with some do able, pragmatic and cost-effective solutions to address problems pertaining to the energy sector on long lasting basis. 

He appreciated that the Institute of Engineers Pakistan (IEP) in collaboration with various other institutions addressed an important national issue as our country is faced with acute challenge of energy shortfall. 

Adding, he said, as we all are aware, the phenomenon of climate change is a reality now and overall rise in global temperature is expected. There is a need to address energy crises as it has become so important as never in the past.

SSUET takes initiative for students exploring CPEC


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) has launched a far-reaching academic initiative aimed at acquainting its students of the background and benefits of multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

In this regard a group of some 40 students, 10 faculty members and supporting staff of the university were taken to a visit to Gwadar through the Makran Coastal Highway to show them on the ground implementation of various projects being carried out under the auspices of the CPEC. 

The visit was organized in collaboration with the Pakistan Navy officials during which the students were taken around the Gwadar Port and the ongoing development sites. 

The trip was enriched with briefings from Army, Navy, Gwadar Port Authority and Gwadar Development Authority officials on CPEC progress, future plans and their impact on Pakistan. 

The tour was followed by report writing and presentations by students on what they had learnt and the outcome of the visit. 

In connection with more exposure to the CPEC the visiting SSUET students along with faculty members participated in number of events which included an International Conference on Economic, Business and Social Research organized by Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Science l at Uthal Campus; a seminar on CPEC Priorities and Challenges, organized by Express TRIBUNE at a local hotel and a seminar on CPEC Myths and Challenges, Organized by Institute of Engineering Pakistan.

Besides, the SSUET is planning to invite Vice Chancellors of both public and private universities from Sindh and Baluchistan to share the valuable information on current and future scenario of the CPEC and its impact on Pakistani youth.

Increased taxation on cigarettes demanded


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

At the emergency meeting, heath professionals belonging to National Alliance for Tobacco Control (NATC) Pakistan Chest Society (PCS), Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) and Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) raised serious concern on the recent news that Federal government is considering decrease in the taxation on cigarettes in the upcoming budget.

The health experts pressed the government to increase taxation on cigarettes in order to curb the growing tobacco epidemic in the country. It was also demanded that the ‘Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of non-smoker’s Health Ordinance of 2002’ be strictly enforced in order to protect the public health from tobacco which happens to be the single largest preventable cause of death in Pakistan. 

Pakistan is one of the countries where cigarette consumption is increasing with the passage of every year as according to a WHO report, every adult consumes 510 cigarettes on average every year which is alarming. 

Cigarette smoking kills 100,000 Pakistanis every year. This death toll is far greater than total deaths occurring as a result of suicidal bombings, traffic accidents and crime related killings in a given year. Significant increases in tobacco taxes are a highly effective tobacco control strategy and lead to significant improvements in public health.

The research conducted by International Agency for Research on Cancer last year has shown that 50% increase in inflation adjusted price reduces smoking prevalence by 20%. 

Prof Javaid Khan, Consultant Chest Physician from Aga Khan University and chairman NATC, said that the taxation on cigarette in Pakistan is lowest in the region. The low taxation rate encourages the public, especially youth. 

Quoting a research conducted by World Bank, he commented that increasing the tax by 10 percent can reduce the tobacco consumption by 8 percent in low income country like Pakistan. 

He also warned that tobacco in any form increases an already extensive risk of Heart disease in individuals suffering from hypertension and/or diabetes. Nicotine present in tobacco increases insulin resistance in the body and hampers good control of diabetes, he explained. 

Dr Khan also regretted the closure of Tobacco Control cell in Islamabad which was working under ministry of health. 

Prof. Nadeem A Rizvi. President, Chest Health and Education Society, and Head of the department of Chest Diseases JPMC, said that tobacco was responsible for almost 50% of all cancer cases in the country, yet smoking is still being advertised in the country at the point of sale and is portrayed through TV drama serials as a pleasurable, cool, glamorous and an adventurous act. He demanded a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising and sponsorship in the country. 

Dr Nisar Rao of Dow university of Health Sciences said that passive smoking is a serious health risk to a non-smoker. He necessitated that all public places and public transport should be made truly smoke free in order to protect the health of non-smokers. 

Addressing the doctors of Pakistan, he said that they should not only set a good example by not smoking themselves, but also work to make their clinics, health centers and hospitals smoke free. 

Dr Sohail Akhter, an office-bearer of PIMA, requested the lawyers to come forward and help in the litigations against the tobacco industry for its violations of anti-tobacco laws of the country. The tobacco industry should be held responsible for deaths that are taking place every year in the country as a result of tobacco use.

Research on new approaches to eradicate polio


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The threat of polio in conflict-hit areas of Pakistan can be reduced through a package of community-based strategies integrating maternal child health services and routine immunizations, according to a new study published in The Lancet Global Health.

The research conducted by health experts from the Aga Khan University in partnership with the Peshawar Medical College, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Canada’s Centre for Global Child Health at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, tested a range of interventions in 387 insecure areas of the country in Bajaur, 

Karachi and Kashmore where children are especially vulnerable to contracting polio: a disease that has been eradicated in all countries except for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. During the study, researchers identified a range of problems leading to new cases of polio being reported in the country every year. 

These challenges included children not being present at home during immunization drives, healthcare workers being denied access to particular areas or being unable to cover all homes in an area, distrust of vaccination activity among the population, and fatigue caused by recurrent polio-focused immunization drives. 

The researchers were able to expand coverage of the polio vaccine in insecure areas by deploying a wide range of approaches. 

These interventions included the introduction of pictorial health awareness campaigns, community mobilization and engagement through local volunteers, and the running of holistic health camps after national immunization drives that addressed the unmet need for mother and child health services in these areas. 

These steps enabled low cost, accurate health information as well as vaccinations to be provided to over 50,000 families, helped address the problem of children being missed in national drives and alleviated the potential hesitancy of those refusing polio vaccines delivered through frequent door to door immunization campaigns. 

Furthermore, by focusing each intervention in a distinct cluster, researchers were able to assess the effectiveness of each approach and to recommend which measures would help meet global and country polio eradication targets most effectively. 

“Ensuring that no child is missed in polio vaccination campaigns is especially challenging in areas in Bajaur and parts of Karachi where the law and order situation limits access to vaccinators. There is also widespread suspicion of immunization activity across the country which is why one of the approaches we tested involved building trust within communities,” Dr Sajid Soofi, associate professor in paediatrics and child health at AKU, remarked. 

Dr Saeed Anwar, associate professor in community health sciences at Peshawar Medical College, added that healthcare teams, consisting of community mobilisers from the area, were trained to deliver accurate information about immunization to parents and local healthcare providers. Focused sessions were also held with community leaders, religious figures, teachers and other prominent officials at the union council level. 

Speaking about the value of these approaches, Dr Anwar said: “By employing local influencers to manage projects and by focusing on personalised sessions with local stakeholders we were able to gain access to previously unreachable areas and thereby protect more children from this preventable disease.” 

The study also disproved a view that providing an anti-polio injection, the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV), alongside polio drops, the oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV), would result in opposition from the community. Researchers noted that data showed that eight out of ten families agreed to their child receiving the IPV when it was delivered as part of a comprehensive health package that provided vital hygiene, nutrition and antenatal services to mothers and children. 

“Since the eradication of polio is a national and global imperative, we worked closely with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as federal and provincial governments to generate evidence that can help achieve the objectives of the National Emergency Plan and the WHO’s Polio Eradication Initiative. Importantly the study’s findings also contribute to targets related to vaccine coverage and immunization against communicable diseases under Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals,” the senior author of the study Professor Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, founding director of AKU’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health and the Chair in Global Child Health at the Centre for Global Child Health in Toronto, observed. 

“Our package of interventions enabled us to boost coverage of the oral polio vaccine by 8.5 per cent in areas where there was previously fierce opposition to immunization campaigns. Our steps to organise temporary health camps providing broad-based health services ensured that we reached two-thirds of targeted children and families and helped us to provide booster injections to ensure that every child stayed on track with the four-dose schedule needed to eradicate polio,” he added. 

Previous research by the Aga Khan University, which was published in Science Direct in 2013, demonstrated that the use of booster doses of the IPV enhanced immunity in children and contributed to the eventual introduction of IPV in Pakistan’s routine immunization programme in late 2015. 

This study also generated evidence that strengthened the case made by the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) for booster doses of IPV to be made a part of Routine Immunization programmes around the world. 

Dr Mohammad Assai, Pakistan Country Head for the WHO, said: “The eradication of polio worldwide requires global partnerships that combine medical expertise with strong community health research capabilities. Working in partnership with a range of universities and multilateral organisations has helped us generate the evidence to strengthen immunization systems and to expand vaccine coverage so that the world stays on track with targets under the global Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan which aims to eradicate the disease by 2018.” 

He added that initiatives focused on engaging communities and officials at the grassroots level were enabling people to get involved in local efforts to boost public health and well being which were translating into more effective polio campaigns in Pakistan. 

The study Community engagement and integrated health and polio immunisation campaigns in conflict-affected areas of Pakistan: a cluster randomised controlled trial was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and was completed over a period of four years of planning and execution

AKUH teams up with provincial tuberculosis control programme


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sindh Provincial Tuberculosis Control Programme (PTP) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) to establish it as a Treatment and Referral centre for patients suffering from tuberculosis (TB).

TB is a contagious disease and an untreated patient can infect up to 15 people over the course of a year. Although treatable, the disease is widespread across Pakistan due to factors including delays in its diagnosis, inappropriate and unsupervised use of medicines and an absence of social support programmes for high risk populations. 

These issues have not only failed to contain the disease but have also lead to the emergence of drug resistant forms of TB, as patients fail to the understand the importance of follow-up doctor visits and continued treatment. 

The TB Treatment and Referral Centre at the AKUH had been established to address this alarming health concern. 

The AKUH has the largest group of Infectious Diseases specialists in the country who will be working in collaboration with the Pharmacy Services at the AKUH, to dispense quality TB medicines. 

The TB Treatment and Referral Centre also plans to educate the public that TB is not a silent disease and can be recognized by its evident symptoms (persistent cough for more than three weeks, low grade fever, coughing up blood, night sweats, loss of appetite and weight and perpetual fatigue) and be treated with antibiotics over a course of 6 months. 

At the ceremony, AKU’s Professor and Service Line Chief, Dr Bushra Jamil commented on the importance of this Centre and said, “The AKUH is delivering high quality care utilizing established best practices for patients of all ages with all forms of tuberculosis according to international standards for tuberculosis care. 

The AKU Mycobacterial Laboratory is the only Supranational Reference Laboratory for TB in the country. The role of National and Provincial TB Control Programs in engaging private institutions through Public Private Mix (PPM) strategy is commendable”. Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that most commonly affects the lungs. 

However, it can also affect any part of the body such as the kidneys, eyes, joints, spine, and brain. TB is a curable disease but can be fatal, if not detected and treated properly. TB poses a major public health challenge in Pakistan. 

In 2015 Pakistan was ranked fifth amongst TB high-burden countries worldwide according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and accounted for 61% of the TB burden in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region.