Monday, March 27, 2017

PM desires to see Karachi back to city of lights: Governor Sindh

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Governor of Sindh, Mohammad Zubair, has vowed to promote an investor-friendly climate in Karachi in fulfillment of a desire by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who wants to see the country’s biggest city returning to its old image of the city of lights and the hub of commercial activity.

In a recent interview, the Governor outlined his vision to transform the violence-prone city and once again make it attractive for foreign and domestic investment. 

“The Prime Minister has a desire to transform Karachi back to the city of lights and conducive to investments,” the Governor said and, citing PM directives, added that he would make all possible efforts to make the city an attractive destination for business activity. 

Although, maintenance of law and order in provinces is the responsibility of the respective provincial governments, the governor stated that he would coordinate with the Chief Minister and the Director General Rangers to achieve this goal. 

Responding to a question, the Governor stated that safety and security of common people is among the top priority of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and his government is taking all measures to ensure that people enjoy all the basic amenities at their doorsteps without any discrimination.

The Governor said that since taking over in 2013, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has focused his efforts to root out terrorism from the length and breadth of the country and is pursuing an ambitious agenda to eliminate poverty and economic deprivation for the common people.

“Economic prosperity will immensely contribute to achieving the goals of peace and development in the country,” he added. 

To a question, Governor Mohammad Zubair said that as a result of determined efforts by Prime Minister Sharif to curb heinous crimes such as kidnapping for ransom, target killings and other terrorist activities have dropped to their lowest level as compared to what the government inherited in 2013. 

He complimented IG Police Sindh and DG Rangers for their efforts to restore and maintain law and order and said that he will provide all possible help and support to eliminate crimes in the city and return its past glory. 

Responding to another question, the Governor agreed that reduction in street crimes in Karachi has not achieved the desired level owing to the fact that police force lack in numbers to monitor the country’s most populous city, which is home to a diverse community. 

“Karachi has the largest concentration of Afghan population in the world; there are people from all kinds of communities including Mohajirs, Baluch, Bengali, Punjabi and Pakhtuns” he said and added that Karachi police force is half the Lahore police force which has less population than Karachi. 

He said that a large number of security forces are detailed with ministers, advisers, MPAs and other political party leaders, leaving it less policemen to deal with law and order and control petty street crimes.

The Governor, who was overseeing the Privatization Commission before being appointed in the Sindh province, said that Pakistan of today is different from what it was in 2013. 

“It has now been transformed into a new era of hope that promised economic development and prosperity for all.” 

He cited country’s record foreign exchange reserves and a bullish stock market as evidence of heightened economic activity. 

He said that the KSE has set new records and is among the world’s best performing stock markets in recent years. 

The Governor stated that as a result of prudent government policies and fiscal reforms, the country’s economic growth which remained stagnant for years, is now back on an upward trajectory and has been duly acknowledged by international donors, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. 

He said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has given special attention to Karachi, which is the country’s economic hub. The Governor was confident that the vision of the Prime Minister will make Karachi once again the city of lights where people lived in peace and prosperity. He expressed that the law and order will improve and goal of peace in the city will be realized soon. 

Governor Mohammad Zubair thanked the Prime Minister for reposing confidence in him and giving him the opportunity to serve the people of Sindh.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pakistan, UK need to work jointly: Ambassador Jamil Ahmed Khan

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

“Pakistan has always maintained cordial relations with the United Kingdom (UK) over the years. With more than two percent UK nationals tracing their roots to Pakistan, the two nations share unique ties.”

This was stated by Ambassador Jamil Ahmed Khan, now also a respected analyst, while participating in a recent talk show on a TV channel. 

Responding to a question, he emphasized on enhancing framework of intelligence sharing on all security related issues, thus augmenting the efforts of UK encountering terrorism. 

Pakistan, he said, has an old ally in UK and it is the need of the hour that they joined hands in curbing terrorism in Pakistan by harnessing diplomatic efforts to eliminate the proxy war its neighbours indulge in. 

The Ambassador did not hesitate in pointing that quite a few organizations engaged in terrorism in Pakistan were being supported by some of its neighbouring countries. 

“The 21st century underhand mechanisms at the state level would not serve the purpose to anyone rather it would propel terrorism in the region,” he felt. 

The Ambassador concluded in the talk show that UK has very structured legal system which is hard to be bypassed through a political or diplomatic mechanism.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tributes paid to Prof Dr S M Makhdumi

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Glowing tributes were paid to Prof Dr S M Makhdumi, the former Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, who was laid to rest on March 22. He was also a member of the Board of Governors and member of the Academic Council at the university. 

He did his PhD in civil engineering from Nottingham, UK, MSc in Structural Engineering from Manchester, UK, and his BE (Civil Engineering) from the NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, where he also went on become chairman of the civil engineering department and later, Dean of Faculty of Engineering. 

He was also a consultant to many engineering firms in Pakistan who benefited from his vast experience in design of structures including multistoried buildings, industrial concerns, bridges and varied structures. He was associated in over 500 projects in the country.

The burial of Prof Dr S M Makhdumi was also attended by Prof Dr Sarosh Hashmi Lodi, who had taken over the charge of the Vice Chancellor of the NED University earlier in the day. 

Meanwhile a large number of teaching and non-teaching staff of the SSUET attended the condolence reference held at SSUET in which they offered dua-e-maghfirat for the departed soul and prayed to Allah to rest the soul in eternal peace and grant him highest place in Jannah. 

The SSUET Chancellor, Jawaid Anwar, Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawed H Rizvi, Acting Dean Prof Dr Najeeb, and Registrar, Syed Sarfraz Ali besides some senior Aligharians were also present on the occasion. 

In a brief speech Chancellor Jawaid Anwar recalled the services of the late Prof Dr Makhdumi as Chairman of the civil engineering department and Dean Faculty of Engineering for promoting the cause of the SSUET. 

He observed that the university has grown over the years and is recognized as educational centre of excellence both at home and abroad which was made possible by dedicated persons like Prof Dr Makhdumi. 

The Chancellor stated that the SSUET graduates were performing appreciative services and earning successes everywhere. He said that it was the very objective of the university and Prof Dr Makhdoomi too was working on this mission. 

Meanwhile, the Convener of the Aligarh Institute of Technology, Engr Anwar Ali, also paid rich compliments to the late Prof Dr Makhdoomi, describing him as one of the best teachers and a kind-hearted human being whose services will always be remembered. 

Prof Dr Abdul Samad, also working at the SSUET, informed that Prof Dr Makhdumi was his class fellow and they had both joined the NED University together. 

Engr Mohammed Shafiq, a former Director of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), recalled that Prof Dr Makhdumi was his teacher at the NED University, adding that even at the SSUET he used to visit him regularly to seek his guidance and advice on various issues.

Prof Dr Sarosh Lodi takes over as new VC of NED University

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Prof Dr Sarosh Hashmat Lodi, who was working as the Dean, Civil Engineering & Architecture, has taken over as the new Vice-Chancellor of the NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, on March 22.

A recipient of numerous awards for his scholastic accomplishments over the years, he was the front-runner for the post which became vacant following the completion of tenure of his immediate predecessor, Prof Dr Mohammad Afzal Haque. 

Having proven track record in the field of academics and administration, he is expected to lead the turnaround of the NED University, which is the oldest engineering institution of the metropolis. 

Currently the university has an enrollment of about 12,000, comprising of around 9,000 undergraduate students while the rest are engaged in master’s and PhD studies. At the time of taking over, 

Prof Dr Sarosh Lodi’s top priority would be to streamline and consolidate the functioning of the historic institution and to overcome its financial constraints with the collaboration of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the Government of Sindh. 

Himself an alumnus of the NED University, he will be keen to strengthen the culture of research during his tenure as the Vice Chancellor, knowing his inclination for such tasks. 

Leading by example, Prof Dr Sarosh Lodi finds himself in a good position to engage the fellow faculty members in promoting and carrying out the research works. 

He is the son of Prof Hashmatullah Lodhi, a renowned educationist and author, who was also a brilliant hockey player in his younger years, having come very close to representing the British India’s all-conquering team.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Prof Dr S M Makhdumi passes away

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Prof Dr S M Makhdumi, serving as Dean, Faculty of Engineering, at the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, passed away after a brief illness on March 21.

Cardiac arrest was described as the reason for his death although he was having issues in his kidney lately. He is survived by one son and three daughters. 

He was a man of high stature and his death is being considered as a great loss to the academic sector. He had worked as the chairman of civil engineering department for 11 years and served in the capacity of Dean of Faculty of Engineering for the years at the NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, prior to joining the SSUET. 

The SSUET Chancellor, Jawaid Anwar, Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Syed Jawaid H Rizvi, Registrar, Syed Sarfraz Ali, office-bearers of the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA), senior Aligarhians and his colleagues have condoled the sad demise of Prof Dr S M Makhdumi. 

They have termed his death a great loss to the university and academic sector, noting that his death has created a vacuum that will be difficult to fill for a long time. 

They prayed to Almighty Allah to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant fortitude to the bereaved family to bear the irreparable loss. 

While expressing his profound grief and sorrow to the bereaved family, the SSUET Chancellor Jawaid Anwar recognized that Prof Dr Makhdumi rendered commendable services in the field of engineering education and research.

Meanwhile the NED University of Engineering and Technology, as a mark of respect, has postponed the Spring Festival which was scheduled to be held on March 22.

Sana Mir desires stern action against spot-fixers

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan woman One-day cricket captain Sana Mir has desired stern action against spot-fixers to eradicate this menace from cricket.

“Whoever disrespects green-shirt should be banned and punished without any mercy,” she told reporters at the National Stadium, Karachi, where women training camp was taking place. 

She regretted that match-fixing and spot-fixing had brutally damaged the image of Pakistan cricket as well Pakistan 

She considered it a very serious issue and it should be dealt accordingly and those found guilty should never be allowed play for Pakistan again.

Pakistan suffered a blow when trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir were convicted in 2010 for spot-fixing during the tour of England. 

Now spot-fixing controversy involving southpaw opener Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Irfan and Shahzaib Hasan in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) has caused another great damage. 

Earlier at the start of 21st century, several of top Pakistan cricketers were fined and banned. Former Pakistan skipper Saleem Malik and pacer Ata-ur-Rehman were banned for life for their involvement in match-fixing. 

She praised the role Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq in image building of Pakistan team after the 2010 spot-fixing controversy. 

“Misbah has played a great role in removing the spot-fixing stigma after taker over the captaincy,” she said. 

However, she said she was happy no such thing happened in women cricket and there no negative impact on them. 

“It was always pride to wear green Pakistan cap, Sana said. She added that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was conducting the fortnight camp to improve the skills of women cricketers. Former Pakistan Test fast bowler Kabir Khan is supervising the camp with assistant coaches.

Top wrestlers to feature in bouts in Pakistan

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Some of world’s top wrestlers will be seen in action in international bouts to be held in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad in May, a spokesman of Pakistan Wrestling Entertainment (PWE) revealed on March 20.

“We are planning to hold bouts in three major cities involving around 20 wrestlers,” Zeeshan Bashir, Director of PWE Middle East on his arrival with four wrestlers from Dubai. 

These wrestlers having landed at the Quaid-e-Azam International Airport in Karachi included Tiny Iron (USA), Flesh Gordon (France), Yaseen Usmani (Algeria) and Badshah Pehalwan Khan (Pakistan/USA). 

The launching press conference of the PWE officials and wrestlers was to be held at Hotel Movenpick, Karachi, on March 21. 

He said that they were working on dates and list of wrestlers and it will be prepared in due course of time. 

“Pakistan is badly lacking in international sporting activities and we are looking forward to revive those activities through this event,” the Dubai-based USA/Pakistani national, maintained. 

He expressed the hope the successful staging of these action bouts will be soft image building of Pakistan. 

Zeeshan Bashir said the have various options for venue but considering greater Pakistan public interest in Karachi, they planning to stage the opening leg of bouts at National Stadium. 

He was fully aware of interest of WWE among the peoples of Pakistan and that is why he developed this ideal which will be reality in few weeks time.

Monday, March 20, 2017

SSUET’s 20th convocation held

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan's eminent nuclear scientist, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, has called upon the young graduate engineers in various fields to equip themselves with latest knowledge in science and technology to serve the cause of the country.

"You should not limit yourself to just bachelor degree but should go forth for higher studies in order to meet the present day challenges,” he advised while speaking as the chief guest at the impressive 20th Convocation-2017 of Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) held at the Karachi Expo Centre on March 19. 

Over 1,200 passed out graduates of the SSUET were awarded degrees in their respective engineer disciplines on the occasion. The presentation of gold, silver and bronze medals to top three position holders in each engineering discipline of computer, civil, electronics, biomedical and telecommunication besides computer science was made amidst thunderous applause from guests, parents and students community. 

“When India acquired nuclear technology and became a nuclear power with the sole objective to establish its hegemony we realized the situation and proposed to the then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that Pakistan should also go nuclear to fail the India's nefarious designs and he accepted the same and today Pakistan is a powerful nuclear state and no one can cast evil eye on it and the credit for this goes to Prime Minister Bhutto,” Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan observed in his speech. 

The chief guest told the passing out graduates that in their practical life they will face various problems but with acquisition of advance knowledge they would overcome the same. 

He informed having had an association with the SSUET right from the beginning and members of its sponsors, the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA) deserve every appreciation for the establishment of this university and thus provide an opportunity to young generation of Karachi to get higher education in science and technology. 

Paying tributes to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the chief guest said that had he not established Aligarh Muslim University, Pakistan would not have come into being as the people AMU produced were the ones who struggled for a separate homeland for Muslims of South Asia. 

He hoped that the engineers of today would serve the cause of the country in future. He said whatever the situation may be they should devote themselves to the cause and interests of the country. 

"This is our country and we have to work for the glory of our motherland,” the great benefactor of Pakistan announced.

As he arrived at the rostrum to deliver his address, the entire invitees stood up and gave him a thunderous applause reflecting his recognition of his services for Pakistan.

Earlier in his welcome address, the SSUET Chancellor, Jawaid Anwar, paid glowing tributes to Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, recognizing him as the true pride of Pakistan. 

He stated that the convocation is the biggest and most important event of the university and is a milestone in the lives of the student. This is an acknowledgement that a student has reached a higher level of knowledge understanding and education. 

"It is a happy time for the fresh graduates that they are joining their seniors and I would like you to be linked with this university as alumni. The contribution of the alumni in the development of university is universal. I hope that all of you will play a vital role in the progress and advancement of your university,” he said. 

The Chancellor pointed out that this is an era of knowledge based economy in which small countries such as Singapore and Korea have excelled. Every individual realizes the importance of education. 

"If you see for yourself, you will observe that the access to, and use of modern technological education are central to social development and the key to the evolution of human civilization,” he added. 

Jawaid Anwar said that SSUET holds a prominent place in the academic sector due to its high standard of education and the training it imparts to its students. Its graduates hold leading positions in many national and international organizations, where they are proving their metal. Our graduates are fully equipped to take on the challenges of present and future requirements. 

He said the concept of social reforms of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was based upon acquisition of modern scientific education. The key ingredients of this concept were proper upbringing, character building and tolerance. 

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. 

In his address, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawed H Rizvi, said that the 20th convocation was a historical event and a milestone in the history of university. He said that the track record of university since its inception is a fair testimony of the SSUET being a progressive institution that is growing at rapid pace in a period of slightly over two decades. The SSUET is always responsive to advancement in science, engineering and technology.
The VC recalled that so many landmarks, advancements have taken place in the world today and this process continues. Scientists and engineers regularly come up with new ideas innovations, inventions in science engineering and technology. All this is being done not by super humans but they are the people like the graduates passing out today. They had consistency of purpose in their efforts. 

With hard work and determination, they could produce results. Our young graduates can also claim achievements if they keep targets in professional life and try to pursue these with confidence. Try to carve out your place amongst professionals. 

He advised the graduates to respect parents and be grateful to them. They have sacrificed a lot to get you to where you are today. They deserve acknowledgement. As you now step into practical life you should find yourself a better person equipped with knowledge and skills and willing to share and contribute to the betterment of mankind and humanity and minimize sufferings of people. 

He recalled how the profound transformation of the university took place over the past years as the university has grown from an enrollment of 200 students in 1994 to over 5,800 students in 2017. SSUET started with just a couple of technologies but today it has been expanded the programme to eleven departments.

"We have plans in hand to further expand University keeping in view the national, international and market trend. We have turned out more than 14,000 graduates so far. With the progress made we do not aim to become the best University but we always endeavour to offer quality education and state of the art facilities for learning and research so that our students gain knowledge and skills and become real proficient professionals in the competitive world of today and future while they enter practical life. It is a matter of pride for our country to have an institution like the SSUET that has developed so well since its establishment," he explained.

Dr Jawid H Rizvi pointed out that focus of Sir Syed University since its inception has been dissemination of knowledge and imparting skills and expertise through quality education in the domain of science, engineering and technology. 

"Sir Syed University believes that technology plays a vital role in the development and progress of our country as all modern development taking place these days are the direct outcome of technical advancement. The university believes that the economic future of Pakistan is in the hands of engineers and technology experts," he concluded.

The convocation proceedings were conducted by the SSUET Registrar, Syed Sarfraz Ali, and it was largely attended by members of the Board of Governors, eminent people from the fields of science and technology, educationists and industrialists besides Consul Generals and senior members of AMUOBA.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

SSUET convocation on March 19

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

All arrangements have been finalized for holding the 20thConvocation-2017 of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, at the Expo Centre on March 19. 

This year over 1200 students will be receiving their degrees in respective disciplines of engineering which include Computer, Electronics, Electrical, Bio-Medical, Telecommunication and Civil Engineering and Computer Science besides award of degrees to those who completed their Masters and PhD programmes. 

On the occasion the students having secured first, second and third positions in their respective disciplines of engineering will be decorated with gold, silver and bronze medals. 

Earlier a day before the holding of convocation, the Board of Governors of the university will meet under the chairmanship of Vice-Chancellor Prof. Dr Jawed H Rizvi. The board will dispose of an agenda which, among other items, will include review of convocation arrangements and approval of the same.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Four SSUET selected for Hajj through balloting

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Four employees of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, have emerged successful in the 16th Hajj balloting. 

The lucky employees were Naib Qasid Shabana Naz, Computer Operator Mohammed Shahzad Khan, Risalat Ali (Farash) and Homoeo Doctor Sofia Arif. 

Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Syed Jawed H Rizvi congratulated the four successful employees and advised them that while in the Holy land, they should pray for the Muslim Ummah and progress and prosperity of the country as well as for their university. 

He remarked that they have won this great opportunity of performing a most sacred ritual of Islam and hopefully they would devote their time on the sacred land in praying Almighty Allah to win His will. The Registrar SSUET, Syed Sarfraz Ali was also present on the occasion.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Younis Khan compliments Hub Rally Cross organizers

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s ace Test batsman and ex-captain Younis Khan has complimented the organizers for conducting the exciting Hub Rally Cross at the newly developed Max Dirt Arena 40-KM outside Karachi. 

“It’s an exciting and thrilling motorsport and organizer deserved praise and credit for their effort,” he told media corps upon arrival after having fishing overnight round in Gadani Balochistan. The chief organizer of the Rally, Shujaat Sherwani, was also present on the occasion. 

Younis Khan, who took a round of the newly inaugurated track, said he had more shocks in cricket than during his short drive with Shujaat Sherwani.

“I enjoyed the ride and it was good experience and it was a fun. I wish I could drive fast like Mr. Sherwani did,” he added after the round. 

However, he said, it was a giant effort of the organizers to bring many skilled drivers for the competition and he was also pleasantly surprised by the large number of audience and supporters of motorsport outside Karachi. 

Younis Khan said that he was also surprised to watch different kinds of vehicles and the enthusiastic participants, foreseeing lots of potential and talent in motorsport in Pakistan. Shujaat Sherwani presented Max Dirt Hub Rally Cross Shirt to 2009 World T20 winning Captain Younis Khan. 

Upon arrival at the venue the cricket celebrity was thronged by large number of fans and supporters. Demonstrating sporting spirit and smile Younis Khan have dozens of selfies with the public. He also distributed Toyota Highway Motor Caps on behalf of the organizers.

Asad Khoro outsmarts Nadir Magsi to win Hub Rally Cross at Max Dirt arena

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Demonstrating speed skill and control Asad Khoro won the ‘A’ Prepared Class event of Hub Rally Cross at the newly launched Max Dirt Arena in Hub on March 12. Overall 33 participants including several newcomers featured in the race as hundreds of peoples from around the area turnout to watch some of country’s top racing rally drivers in action. 

Driving 4000 cc Toyota Vigo, Asad outclassed top title contender Nadir Magsi with dazzling performance on a twisty and sandy track which also marked the opening of newly developed Max Dirt Arena. Asad clocked four minutes 53.02 seconds while covering the distance of 5 kilometers. 

The winner of Jhal Magsi, Hub Rally and Cholistan Rally, Nadir Magsi, was contended the second positon. Driving Toyota Vigo 4000 cc, Nadir Magsi took five minutes four seconds. Emerging Driver, Sahibzada Sultan Mohammad Ali, also showed brilliant controlled driving to finish third. He clocked five minutes nine seconds. 

Major (Rtd) Usman driving Mitsubishi won the Stock ‘A’ category contest. He clocked three minutes 37 seconds. Sarfraz Dhanchi finished runner-up while Naveed Wasti came third. 

The brother of Nadir Magsi, Aamir Magsi secured top spot in ‘B’ Prepared category as he clocked four minutes 54 seconds to cover the distance. Ameer Ali got second position while Kashif Khan was third. 

Ali Magsi won the ‘B’ Stock contest in three minutes and five seconds. Naveed Wasti got second position while Mian Shakeel was third. 

The ‘C’ Prepared Class winner was Talha Raees Khan with timing six minutes and three seconds. Zaheer Ali Shah ended as the runner-up. 

As expected Tushna Patel won the ladies event on her 2.5 Vigo while Mama Sheraz finished runner-up. 

The former Pakistan cricket captain, Younis Khan, also graced the occasion as he took a test drive with chief organizer Shujaat Sherwani. 

Pakistan’s top Motorsport driver Ronnie Patel lauded the contribution of Shujaat Sherwani, a diehard promoter and supporter, at the presentation ceremony. 

He appreciated the role of media for coming and covering the Rally and highlighting the achievements of the participants and supporting organizers. 

Speaking on the occasion Shujaat Sherwani felicitated the winners and applauded drivers for taking part in tough but exciting event. Ronnie Patel reckoned that the lunching of Max Dirt Arena was a milestone for the motorsport participants.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rollout of PCV-10 vaccine protects children from deadly diseases

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pneumonia and meningitis account for nearly one in three child deaths in Pakistan every year. A four-year study of the impact of the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV-10), has found that the vaccine prevents children from contracting deadly strains of the two diseases.

The study, funded by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and conducted by researchers from Aga Khan University (AKU), investigated the impact of PCV-10 in Karachi, Hyderabad, Matiari and Thatta. 

Researchers found out that the vaccine was 70 percent effective in protecting children from ten strains of pneumonia and meningitis. In addition to studying the vaccine’s effectiveness, researchers also analysed factors affecting the coverage of the vaccine in Thatta and Tando Muhammad Khan, two rural districts of Sindh, the province with one of the lowest rates of immunization coverage. 

The implementation of these recommendations by local authorities has more than doubled vaccine coverage in the area. 

Commenting on the findings of the research, Dr Asad Ali, associate professor and director of research in paediatrics at AKU, said: “In Pakistan, pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children over the age of one month. Our study clearly demonstrates the value of making this vaccine available to every child and puts forward new recommendations that will extend the reach of the vaccine to every child, in rural and urban parts of the country.” 

Speakers at the seminar also made a range of proposals to further strengthen vaccination delivery systems in the country. They called for three separate quality improvement processes to be used to keep frontline immunization staff motivated and for low-performing field staff to be mentored through special programmes run by star performers. They also recommended changes in the way data is used to make decisions on outreach campaigns at the district and provincial level. 

Dr Khalid Mahmood Ahmed Khan, professor of paediatrics at the National Institute of Child Health said: “The PCV-10 vaccine has made a huge difference. But we are still seeing cases of meningitis and pneumonia in children who were missed in immunization activity. The public and private sector must work together aggressively to ensure that every child receives the full course of vaccinations under the national Expanded Programme of Immunization.” 

During the seminar, Dr Shehla Zaidi, associate professor in paediatrics and child health at AKU and programme lead for the routine immunization strengthening initiative, described how the University’s wide-ranging healthcare initiatives in Tando Muhammad Khan had increased the reach of four vaccines provided under the government’s Expanded Programme of Immunization. 

She mentioned that her team had introduced a range of game-changing initiatives into the local immunization programme that raised awareness of vaccination drives and improved the efficiency of vaccination drives. 

“Over the course of twelve months we have seen a twofold increase in vaccine coverage levels. We have done this by raising demand for vaccines in rural areas through radio and text message announcements. By giving fuel allowances we have extended the reach of outreach campaigns and the use of a smartphone-based application has introduced real-time monitoring of vaccination activity.” 

“Our work to generate evidence and lessons through innovative healthcare initiatives aims to help the country meet targets under Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals which call for communicable diseases to be eradicated by 2030. Importantly, all of these initiatives can be achieved without the need for government hiring additional staff.” 

Dr Safi Malik, director of programmes at the Ministry of National Health Services, who leads the federal government’s programmes on preventable diseases, spoke about how lessons learnt from the national polio eradication program could help strengthen the Expanded Programme of Immunization. 

He noted that best practices such as the integration of micro plans, enhanced monitoring initiatives and data sharing could help save many lives. 

Dr Malik stated: “I’d like to thank the Aga Khan University and the Sindh province for generating such valuable evidence on the effectiveness of vaccines and immunization programmes. Such research will help us reduce the rate of infant mortality and to achieve our targets under the SDGs. 

“Sindh is a privileged province for having a premier institution like AKU which produces research on healthcare that is informing policy. The federal government is also encouraging other provinces to develop a culture of evidence-based decision making in healthcare and I’d like to appreciate the role of AKU in pioneering healthcare initiatives in communities in hard-to-reach areas.” 

The PCV-10 vaccine’s rollout across Pakistan in late 2014 was enabled by a wide-ranging network of partners known as the Sindh Pneumococcal Vaccine Study Group. These included federal and provincial governments, GAVI, and participating tertiary care hospitals and universities across Sindh that analysed evidence and developed approaches to assess the vaccine’s effectiveness. 

The nationwide rollout of PCV-10 meant that a course that used to cost individuals upto Rs 16,000 is now available to all Pakistanis at no cost. 

The seminar was attended by officials from public and private sector children’s hospitals in Sindh, provincial and district leaders in the health department as well as representatives from development agencies and the private sector.