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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

AKU’s CIME becomes South Asia’s first simulation-based educational institution


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Aga Khan University’s Centre for Innovation in Medical Education (CIME) has become South Asia’s first simulation-based educational institution to be accredited by the US-based Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSIH). 

The University’s CIME was judged to meet the highest standards in simulation-based education by the SSIH which has accredited over 170 centres in 19 countries around the world. The accreditation means that CIME will join a global community of practice bringing the latest advances in the field to Pakistan. 

The simulation-based education represents a significant advance on traditional classroom and theory-based instruction. 

Designed to be an immersive ‘real world’ experience, simulation, in the field of healthcare, enables medical and nursing trainees and professionals to practice key skills and techniques, using virtual reality and high-fidelity patient mannequins, in a risk-free environment before working with patients. 

The CIME Director Charles Docherty, Dr Robert J Buchanan, Professor in Teaching and Technology, received the award during a ceremony in San Diego. In his speech at the event, he noted: “Healthcare is both an art and a science. While textbooks and teachers can teach concepts, simulation-based education augments the academic experience by challenging students to apply their knowledge and inter-personal skills in realistic settings.” 

“The result is that students feel more confident when they begin practicing as they are already familiar with the equipment to be used and the processes to be followed. This leads to a much better experience for students and patients,” he added. 

As a pioneer in healthcare simulation in Pakistan, the 80,000 square feet CIME is Pakistan’s only facility that enables aspiring doctors, nurses, dentists and allied health professionals to work collaboratively on a range of challenging, technology-enhanced patient scenarios. 

“The CIME was founded with the vision of introducing state-of-the-art learning technologies to raise overall standards of healthcare education across Pakistan. There are simulation centres around the world that have been operating for decades without achieving accreditation from the SSIH. We are very proud that CIME has been able to achieve this distinction within two years of its formal inauguration,” the AKU President, Firoz Rasul, remarked. 

The CIME runs over 200 simulation-based courses, ranging from basic life-support to complex birth scenarios that have improved the skills of thousands of healthcare professionals to date. 

“We’re pleased to recognize Aga Khan University’s Centre for Innovation in Medical Education for meeting the highest standards in the practice of simulation in healthcare. The Aga Khan University now joins the ranks of over 170 institutions from 19 countries,” Kristyn Gadlage, Director of accreditation at the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, announced. 

The CIME is open to students from other universities and healthcare institutions across Pakistan and is currently working with public sector bodies in the country as well as centres in Kenya, Uganda and Egypt on initiatives to raise the standard of simulation-based healthcare education.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Eminent cardiologists speak at Pulse 2020


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Dietary practices are a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in Pakistan because health practitioners have difficulty translating international recommendations according to local diet. In the absence of any national data on dietary consumption, health practitioners are unaware of what people are consuming. 

There is a need for an operational policy and an action plan to promote healthy eating and active lifestyle, the speakers noted at the First Cardiovascular Conference ‘Pulse 2020’ held at Aga Khan University (AKU), Karachi. 

Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death in Pakistan, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017, and the country has committed to reducing the burden of such diseases by a third by 2030 under goal 3 of the sustainable development goals. 

The experts at the three-day conference stressed that the epidemic poses many challenges in the country due to the high cost of diagnosis and treatment and lack of prevention knowledge among patients. 

“Health is a partnership between a patient and his/her doctor, so empowerment has to happen from both ends. Right choices in dietary practices need to be picked by patients and advised by health professionals,” Dr Saira Bukhari, an assistant professor of cardiology in the department of medicine, remarked. 

There have been well-designed studies in the last few years which have found that diets which are inclined towards one set of nutrients as opposed to others don’t work and do more harm than good. 

“Such dietary practices are in contradiction to how the human body functions. It is all about having a diet of moderation,” Dr Romaina Iqbal, associate professor and section head for non-communicable diseases, NCDs, in the department of community health sciences at the AKU, added. 

Dr Romaina Iqbal recommended eating a balanced diet composed of complex carbohydrates, a variety of nutrients along with 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical exercise for adults of all ages. 

The speakers noted that numerous dietary plans catch media’s attention and people adopt them. The experts stressed that health practitioners need to introduce the language of prevention with patients. 

The knowledge of symptoms of cardiovascular diseases such as chest pain, shortage of breath, unusual heart beat and loss of consciousness are some of the indicators that patients should be informed about. 

Dr Saira Bukhari said that ideas promoting stereotypical notions of age and health such as how cholesterol and blood pressure numbers should be at a particular age should be discouraged. 

“Patients need to be enabled to make informed choices of their health because every delayed intervention increases the chance of heart attacks and even stroke,” she added. 

The keynote speaker, Dr Faiez Zannad, a cardiologist and clinical pharmacologist at Université de Lorraine in France, reckoned that the global progress in treating heart failure has been spectacular in the last 25 years with mortality declining three fold in dedicated clinical trials, pointing out that evidence from global clinical trials show income inequality as a factor determining clinical outcomes in heart failure. 

“It is desirable that patients and investigators from Pakistan get involved in global trials and join the efforts of knowledge production,” he said. 

Two other keynote speakers who spoke at the conference included Dr Jospeh Kisslo, professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center and Eric Velazquez, professor of medicine at Yale University. 

The conference was held in collaboration between AKU’s section of cardiology and department of medicine, the Association of Pakistani-descent Cardiologists of North America, the Pakistan Hypertension League and the Pakistan Aspirin Foundation. The event was attended cardiologists, postgraduate students, nurses, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Aziz Memon re-elected ESUP President, Hussain Basrai new Treasurer


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The popular figure of Aziz Memon, a renowned entrepreneur and social worker, was re-elected as the President of the English Speaking Union of Pakistan (ESUP) during its recent Annual General Meeting (AGM).

A new face in the ESUP leaders, elected unopposed for the term of 2020-2021, was that of Hussain Basrai, one of the leading chartered accountants of the country, who has also been the Senior Partner at the prestigious firm KPMG Taseer Hadi & Co. He was, quite fittingly, elected for the post of Treasurer. 

According to the election results declared by the ESUP, Kalim Farooqui and Tariq Ikram have been re-elected as Vice Presidents and Majyd Aziz will continue to be the Secretary General. 

Akram Wali Muhammad, Athar Iqbal, Bakhtiar Khan, Irfan Qureshi, Moin Fudda, Pervez Madraswala, Shahzad Sabir, Sirajuddin Aziz, and Syed Jawed Iqbal have been elected to the executive committee. 

In his Presidential address during the AGM, Aziz Memon noted with satisfaction the attendance by over 50 members on the occasion which itself was a record of sorts and reflected the keen interest of members. Aziz Memon highlighted the achievements and activities of the past year, stating that the ESUP took a prominent role in national and foreign activities.

He recalled that many ambassadors and high commissioners of different countries were invited as guest Speakers and that even many diplomats attended the ESUP events.  
Aziz Memon reckoned that the presence of Dr Arif Alvi, President of Pakistan, at the annual dinner was a manifestation of the respect and esteem that the ESUP has earned over the years. 

Majyd Aziz, Secretary General, then announced the names of the office bearers and National Council of Executive Committee members. 

Tariq Ikram, Vice President, presented amendments in the Memorandum and Articles of Association. He elaborated on the main points of these amendments and urged the members to approve these. The meeting unanimously approved the various amendments. 

Kalim Farooqui, Vice President, in his closing remarks, thanked the members for their participation in the ESUP activities. He also appreciated the cooperation of media, Beach Luxury Hotel, and staff of ESUP. 

The AGM of the ESUP was attended, among others, by its Past Presidents, Byram Avari and Abdul Kader Jaffer.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Poet Arif Shafiq passes away

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Popular poet Arif Shafiq has passed away in his home, Karachi, at the age of 62, after protracted illness. 

He was being treated for respiratory problems for quite some time after having suffered brain haemorrhage. 

His funeral prayers were offered at Al Falah Masjid in F C Area and he was laid to rest on December 14. Besides his widow, he has left behind two sons and two daughters. 

Born in Karachi on October 31, 1956, as many as eight poetic collections of his saw light of the day in his lifetime and he was famous in the literary and social circles for his verses.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Murad Ali Shah opens Urdu Conference 2019


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, opened the 12th International Urdu Conference at the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, on December 5. 

Declaring the multilingual city of Karachi as the hub of the cultural activities, he reckoned that the culture harmony in Pakistan was stronger than any other country in the world. 

“Pakistan is a country of different cultures and there is a need to promote cultural activities in every province,” he emphasized. 

The Sindh Cultural Minister, Sardar Shah, observed that just as the Indus River was joining the whole of Pakistan from Kashmir to Karachi, Urdu language was uniting the whole Pakistan as a nation. 

“Despite the heaviest of odds, Urdu has survived as the language of communication and cultural harmony in Pakistan,” he added. 

The President of the Arts council of Pakistan, Muhammad Ahmed Shah, stated that there were hardly a dozen people present in the auditorium when he and his team had launched the Urdu Conference 12 years ago with a budget of only Rupees one million. 

“As you all know, now the International Urdu conference has become a global brand of Pakistan. This year’s Urdu conference won’t be having sessions of Urdu only but we will have sessions in all the other regional languages. The Urdu Conference had now changed to a national cultural conference and for the first time sessions of other languages were also to be held in the conference. On the other hand we have delegates from India, Germany, Japan, USA, Canada, and China,” he said.

In the opening session, Shamim Hanfi and Haris Khalique presented they papers on the current political, social and literary situation in Pakistan and the world. The session was chaired by Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali shah and hosted by Muhammad Ayub Shaikh. 

The conference, to continue until December 8, will feature over 150 delegates from 20 countries, along with 32 sessions on diverse forms of art such as film and TV. 

Music and dance performances, book fairs, dasatangoi and mushairas as well as a photography exhibition, capturing the 11-year old history of the conference have also been planned on the sidelines.

Murad Ali Shah inaugurates KIBF 2019


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The 15th Karachi International Book Fair 2019 got underway at the Karachi Expo Centre on a hazy morning of December 5 but there was plenty of action inside the three gigantic halls, attracting a large number of people. The event will continue until December 9.

It’s the 15th edition of the international book fair in Karachi, being organized by the local chapter of the Publishers & Booksellers Association (PPBSA) with the collaboration of the National Book Foundation (NBF). 

Having been launched in 2005, it has gone on to become an important cultural event of the city. The 15th KIBF 2019 was inaugurated by the Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, whose speech on the occasion was telecast live by the various television channels. 

His assurance that the provincial government would take every possible step to enhance reading habits across the province was viewed with skepticism because of the dubious record of the various governmental organizations working under his command. 

The Chief Minister, however, was spot on while having observed the gradual decline in reading the habit among younger generations which indeed was reflected, as pointed out by him, that there was hardly any youngster attending the ceremony itself which he was addressing. 

He reckoned that efforts be made to revive our old culture of finding best books in the shelves of libraries, in the corners of bookstores, on the push-carts and footpaths. 

Murad Ali Shah recalled his student days at the iconic NED University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi, where he and his classmates used to visit the library on a regular basis. 

He even correctly recalled the name of the then librarian (Habib Saheb) of the 1980s at the NED University who worked very efficiently with his team to facilitate the students. 

The Chief Minister didn't mince words in declaring that he still derived more pleasure and satisfaction by reading a hard copy rather than its soft copy despite the availability of all kinds of modern gadgets like Ipads, laptops and tablets.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Pakistan advised to revise approach to gender equality

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s economic and social development indicators will continue to lag behind other counties until it rethinks its approach to gender equity and commits to gender mainstreaming, according to the experts speaking at a conference at Aga Khan University (AKU) in Karachi.

The speakers at ‘The Time is Now: Gender Equity and Women in Leadership’ noted that there was widespread misinformation about the scale of gender inequality in the workplace and society as a whole. 

They explained that while most people are willing to assert that men and women should be treated as equals, they rarely question why there continues to be a lack of women in upper management and leadership positions across the public and private sector. 

Pakistan has the second lowest rank in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018, behind all other countries in South Asia. Estimates suggest that it will take over 70 years for the country’s men and women to have equal levels of economic participation and opportunity, parity in educational and health indicators, and similar levels of political empowerment. 

“There are strong cultural norms and structural inequities that continue to hold women back,” Dr Ayesha Mian, conference chair, who holds the positions of dean of students and chair of the department of psychiatry at AKU, remarked.
She stated that these norms mean that men are rarely expected to make compensations in their career for their family, or to play an equal role in parenting and caregiving. 

Similarly, women, to a much greater degree than men, face double standards in the workplace and are held to a higher benchmark than men. 

For example, women are often labelled as ‘bossy’ or ‘aggressive’ for actions deemed acceptable for men, and women’s requests for flexible work timings to deal with family commitments are more likely to be seen as showing a lack of commitment to the workplace. One of the most noticeable inequalities is in pay parity which worsens as women ascend the corporate ladder. 

Dr Ayesha shared how data from the United States shows that on average women earn 21 per cent less than men, while women who reach the top positions are paid a salary that is 61 per cent lower than their male counterparts.
“Gender equality involves society equally valuing the different needs, behaviours and aspirations of women and men, boys and girls. By being knowledgeable and responsive to gender considerations societies can ensure that everyone has the same rights, responsibilities and access to opportunity, regardless of whether they were born male or female,” Lindsay Mossman, senior gender equality adviser at the Aga Khan Foundation, Canada, observed. 

The worthy speakers at the conference called on organizations to make their planning and decision making processes more sensitive and responsive to the importance of gender. This approach, often referred to as gender mainstreaming, would enable the country to achieve gender equality. 

This would require workplaces to place a greater emphasis on collecting and reporting on the performance of programmes by gender. This includes details on how many men and women are promoted, those dropping out of the workforce or, how a company’s operations affect each gender. 

In the absence of gender-disaggregated information, management cannot monitor whether initiatives to narrow gaps are working nor can they be held accountable. 

Roshaneh Zafar, Managing Director, Kashf Foundation, shared examples of how her organisation maintained gender-specific data on employee participation and attainment levels that enabled action to be taken if inequalities were noticed. 

She disclosed that when data showed that women were dropping out of the workforce after marriage, she was able to launch awareness programmes for their families to address the issue. 

She added that her organization would not open a branch in an area until they achieve parity between female and male staff. 

Gender-disaggregated information drives change in organisations and the current reliance on anecdotal data to assess progress tends to disguise inequalities and to promote tokenism. 

For example, many workplaces cite the presence of a few token women in senior positions, or the absence of complaints, as proof that their internal systems and practices are fair. This perpetuates a mistaken belief that low levels of female representation are a result of women’s capabilities and their own personal choices, which further impedes efforts to ensure equality. 

Gender mainstreaming also requires a commitment to parity in interview panels and committees. Organizations should always be asking themselves if there is a diverse group of decision-makers on the table that represent different strengths and perspectives, the speakers noted. 

Moreover, parity needs to be present at all levels in the organization: boardroom, executive level, senior management and general workforce. 

In the long-term, the presence of a critical mass of women in leadership positions has been found to have an aspirational effect on other females, the speakers added. 

The Unilever Pakistan Chairperson and CEO, Shazia Syed, spoke about the importance of being sensitive to the needs of different employees. 

She explained how her company had opened a women’s hostel in Karachi so that the parents of female employees feel comfortable with their daughter living on her own in a large city. 

“Daycare facilities are available for both men and women with children as this helps ensure that the wives of male employees are able to continue working,” she revealed. 

During a panel session, the Standard Chartered Pakistan CEO, Shazad Dada, noted that organizations that were diverse and sensitive to gender considerations were more productive and would benefit from staff more committed to the company. 

He added that gender equality initiatives made solid business sense and stated that the country as a whole would suffer if 50 per cent of its population continued to be left behind. 

The speakers concluded that the gender gap is concerning for Pakistan as the sustainable development goals contain a set of targets related to gender equality which Pakistan has committed to achieving by 2030. 

A study by the McKinsey Global Institute has found that the global economy would grow by US $28 trillion, or 25 per cent, if women participated in the economy to the same extent as men. Pakistan’s low ranking in gender equality means that it has the potential to benefit to a much greater extent from initiatives to promote gender equality, they added. 

Dr Ayesha Mian, who is spearheading the Gender Equity and Women in Leadership initiative at AKU, informed that universities have an integral role in hosting discourses with multiple community stakeholders on issues that are pressing and critical to society. 

Over 400 academics, activists and representatives from the banking, healthcare, media, law, and fast-moving consumer goods industries took part in the one-day event which is the first of a series of conferences aimed at spurring efforts to address the problem of gender inequality.

Monday, December 2, 2019

AKU graduates urged to face challenges with courage, perseverance


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

As many as 350 fresh graduates celebrated the completion of their programmes at the Aga Khan University’s convocation ceremony on November 30 where they were urged to remember the importance of courage, perseverance and agility in the years to come.

The chief guest at the event, Dr Sania Nishtar, special assistant to Pakistan’s prime minister on social protection and poverty alleviation, spoke to the graduating class about integrity, or staying true to one’s moral principles. 

“The crux of my experience leads me to believe that in order to make lasting and sustainable change you have to root your actions in integrity. It has become a bit cliché but the time-old adage of doing the right thing for the right reasons is something that you must hold very dear to your heart as you walk into the real world,” she remarked 

The real world is beset by many challenges: widening inequities, demographic challenges, rapid urbanization and a context in which collusive behaviours are deeply entrenched. But such challenges also offer huge opportunity. For example, advancements in artificial intelligence and pharmacogenetics, the study of how genetics impact an individual’s response to medicine, are transforming medicine and today’s graduates have the opportunity to change the world dramatically.

In his welcome address, the AKU President, Firoz Rasul called on graduates to make the most of their education by embracing challenges and to never let setbacks hold them back from achieving their goals. 

“There is no such thing as a life without setbacks. Remember that those who survive disappointment with their determination intact, and learn the hard lessons it has to teach, are forces to be reckoned with,” he declared. 

He urged the graduates to remember the value of courage in difficult times and to develop an agile mindset that would enable them to overcome all obstacles in their way. “Agility is nothing other than responsiveness to changing condition. Stay agile, remain courageous, and continue to persevere and you will achieve all that you’re capable of,” he added. 

This year, students received degrees and diplomas in different disciplines including nursing, midwifery, medicine, education, dental hygiene and Muslim Culture. This included 181 graduates from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, 143 from the Medical College, 16 from the Institute of Educational Development and 10 from the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations.

A number of students won awards at the convocation. The 2019 Medical College Best Graduating Student Award went to Dr Maya Zahid Khan, who also received the AKU Medical College’s Gold Medal for achieving the highest score in three out of four certifying examinations. She is only the tenth student in the University’s history to receive this medal. 

The 2019 School of Nursing and Midwifery Best Graduating Student Award went to Ms Sahar Makhani. Three Awards of Distinction were presented to Dr Amirali Pyarally Gulamhusein, Mr Asif Fancy and Mr Louis Ariano for their significant contributions to the University’s development. An Award of Excellence in Teaching and Teaching Leadership was conferred on Dr Rashida Ahmed and an Award of Excellence in Research was given to Dr Rumina Hasan. 

Professor Emeritus and Professor Emerita were conferred on five retired members of faculty Professor Abul Faizi, Professor Mohammad Perwaiz Iqbal, Professor Murad Moosa Khan, Professor Nelofer Halai and Professor Yasmin Noorali Amarsi for their sustained contributions to teaching, scholarship and service throughout their careers. 

Dr Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, founding chair of the University’s Center for Excellence in Women and Child Health, was elevated to the rank of Distinguished University Professor and is just the second faculty member to hold this title.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Advance HE reaccredits AKU, first in South Asia, East Africa


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Aga Khan University (AKU) has become the first higher education institution in South Asia and East Africa to be recognized by Advance HE, a global body that strives to promote excellence in teaching and learning in higher education. 

The AKU President, Firoz Rasul, announced the University’s three-year reaccreditation with Advance HE while addressing the inaugural session of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference in Karachi. 

Advance HE, based in the United Kingdom, works with higher education institutions across the globe to benchmark teaching quality against the rigorous UK Professional Standards Framework, UKPSF. 

While talking about the importance of effective teaching and learning methodologies, President Rasul noted their role in engaging students and bringing excitement and stimulation into the classroom. 

This encourages students to be responsible for their own learning, he added. The keynote address was delivered by Debra Dawson, director of the Centre for Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education at Western University in Canada. 
She stressed that creating a teaching culture within universities that values quality teaching is important both to motivate faculty members and to create an environment that leads to student success. 

“Specifically, institutional teaching culture has been found to be related to student outcomes such as persistence, learning, and engagement,” she said. Setting up a network to enhance teaching quality in countries with no tradition of support for faculty is a long journey. 

Tashmin Khamis, associate vice provost of AKU’s Network of Quality, Teaching and Learning and principal fellow of the Higher Education Academy spoke about how it takes time to build and to find the people or institutions that can offer support. 

“Our partnership with Advance HE has enabled AKU faculty to access higher education teaching qualifications that are benchmarked against international best practice. I see HEA fellowships as an incentive to transform teaching, as well as a great opportunity to reward and recognise faculty for their commitment to teaching and learning,” she said. 

All universities in the UK are members of Advance HE as well as partners from 15 countries around the world and this gives us an unprecedented chance to be part of a larger community of practice, Khamis concluded. 

The two-day SOTL conference on Evidencing teaching practices for effective learning in higher education focused on efforts to improve student learning experiences in order to drive positive change in the higher education sector as a whole.

Monday, November 18, 2019

AMR poses challenge to Pakistan health system, economy


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
Pakistan News & Features Services)

Up to 95 per cent of the population of Pakistan could be carrying bacteria that makes them resistant to life-saving antibiotics, according to the speakers at the inaugural session of the annual National Health Sciences Research Symposium (NHSRS) of the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Karachi. The theme of the 22nd three-day symposium is ‘Antimicrobial resistance: an opportunity to transform global health’.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) happens when microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs. Microorganisms that develop AMR are sometimes referred to as superbugs. 

As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others. 

A recent UN report warned that the threat of AMR can be a global health crisis that could lead to 10 million deaths every year by 2050. Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, which is expected to rise to fourth place by 2050.

If not managed timely, AMR may lead to a ‘health emergency-like situation’ that might have implications for the country’s health system as well as economy, they said. 

“Antibiotics have been a founding stone of modern medicine. Use of antimicrobials has enabled the implementation of novel treatment modalities such as cardiac bypass surgeries, joint replacements and bone marrow transplants. Management of infectious complications would not have been possible without antibiotics. Spread of resistant bugs is now taking us back in the pre-antibiotic era where advance medical interventions may become compromised,” Rumina Hasan, a professor of microbiology at AKU and chair of the 22nd NHSRS organising committee, remarked. 

“Antimicrobials have also been instrumental in the control of infections in farm animals and in crops, allowing an increase in agricultural output and providing food security. Emergence of antimicrobial resistance threatens this progress,” she added.

Realising that AMR puts the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and jeopardizes achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, WHO instituted a global action plan to tackle AMR in the 68th World Health Assembly in 2015, which was endorsed by all countries including Pakistan. 

Zafar Mirza, Minister of State for Health, Government of Pakistan, and the chief guest on the occasion, expressed his government’s commitment to work with provinces and public and private key stakeholders on the implementation of the National Action Plan for AMR. 

“The misuse and overuse of antimicrobial medicines is fueling resistance worldwide and the Eastern Mediterranean Region is no exception. Drug-resistant infections are estimated to cause at least 700,000 deaths globally each year. Implementation of AMR surveillance, hospital infection prevention and control, and antimicrobial stewardship are extremely important measures to curtail the spread of resistant bugs,” Maha Talaat, WHO EMRO regional coordinator for infection prevention and control, and the keynote speaker, observed.

“Although AMR is a global problem, estimates suggest that 89 per cent of deaths related to AMR in 2050 will occur in Africa and Asia. The UK Government has set up the Fleming Fund to provide the much needed resources to better understand and address AMR. Such Coordinated global actions are required to minimise the emergence and spread of AMR,” Anthony Huszar, South East Asia Regional Coordinator, Fleming Fund, and the keynote speaker, pointed out. 

The AKU President, Firoz Rasul, Deans Adil Haider and David Arthur, and interim CEO of the Aga Khan University Hospital Shagufta Hassan also addressed the symposium and applauded the organisers and participants for highlighting the issue of AMR. 

The NHRS happens to be AKU’s annual ‘flagship’ event that focuses on a health sciences topic relevant to Pakistan and the region. The second and third days of the symposium will cover discussions on animal AMR, antimicrobial use surveillance, food safety, control of antibiotics quality in Pakistan, ‘Ignite’ and several other sessions.