Showing posts with label Abdul Qadir Qureshi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abdul Qadir Qureshi. Show all posts

Sunday, February 16, 2020

AKU Surgical Conference calls for systemic approach to reduce injury deaths

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The experts, while speaking at the inaugural session of the 5th AKU Annual Surgical Conference, having the theme Trauma: Striving for Change, reckoned that thousands of injury deaths every year in Pakistan could be averted by taking safety measures on one side and by adopting a systematic approach to improve trauma care on the other side. 

A systematic approach ensures that life-saving interventions are performed in a timely manner and that no life-threatening conditions are missed, the speakers at the event, organized by the Aga Khan University (AKU), noted. 

As per the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, such an approach could consist of emergency care in the form of first aid being provided by a trained bystander, who can also call an ambulance, equipped with necessary life support and at least two personnel, one to monitor and manage the patient and the other to drive. Ambulance personnel should be able to communicate to a relevant hospital prior to arrival, if needed. 

During the handover, the ambulance provider should share critical information with hospital personnel, who then triage patients to different areas based on the seriousness of their condition. 

Research from the conference was published in a special supplement of the Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA). 

During the event, Professor Syed Ather Enam, chair of the Department of Surgery at AKU, referred to a case report of a two and half-year old boy, who sustained three gunshots at point-blank range. 

The child was unresponsive when the terrified family brought him to the emergency department of the Aga Khan University Hospital after trying two nearby hospitals. 

When the patient did not respond to initial resuscitation efforts, a team of paediatric, cardiothoracic and orthopaedic surgery, and paediatric anesthesiology specialists was taken on board and he was moved to the operating room immediately. 

“Today, he is a healthy four-and-a-half-year old schoolgoing child. There could be thousands of people who were not lucky like him. That’s because our hospitals lack multidisciplinary teams of specialists and the emergency care system as a whole is short of fully equipped ambulances and trained bystanders,” Professor Enam said. 

The AKU’s Annual Surgical Conference brought together national and international experts with expertise in pre-hospital care, mass casualty, rehabilitation, prevention and disaster management. 

“Since blood loss is the leading cause of preventable death following injury, rapid control of bleeding at the scene of an event can be lifesaving, especially if bystanders can step in to help before emergency responders arrive,” Eileen Bulger, a professor of surgery at the University of Washington, remarked. 

On the second day of the conference, the AKU’s upcoming Centre of Excellence for Trauma and Emergencies, and partners will launch a national life-saving initiative focused on bystander training in life support. Emergency care is essential to many targets of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Under SDG 3, good health and wellbeing: Post-crash emergency care and rehabilitation has been estimated to play a role in preventing 40 per cent of road traffic deaths. 

"Also, timely emergency care access is critical to effective universal health coverage. Emergency care can also contribute to efforts to achieve targets under 10 more SDGs by addressing non-communicable diseases, obstetric complications, child health issues, and injuries related to disasters and violence,"Hasan Badre Alam, a professor of surgery at the University of Michigan, informed.

The AKU Vice Provost Anjum Halai, Medical College, Dean, Adil Haider, and chair of the event’s organizing committee Hasnain Zafar also spoke at the conference. 

The Annual AKU Surgical Conference, organized by the Department of Surgery at the AKU in Karachi, offered unparalleled hands-on and didactic learning opportunities, timely discourse on the most relevant surgical practices and research and networking with peers. The last year’s conference had focused on the global surgery.

Idarae Ilm Dost making its presence felt

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Idarae Ilm Dost, a forum founded by Shabbir Ibne Adil and like-minded contemporaries, has started making its presence felt by holding programmes regularly. 

The latest event was organized at the KMC Officers Club, located at Kashmir Road, on February 14 in which the accomplishments and contributions of the legendary quartet of Hakim Muhammad Said, Mirza Ghalib, Ibne Insha and Josh Meleehabadi were recalled by various eminent personalities. 

Although none of the high ranking officials of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) was present on the occasion, there were quite a few worthy intellectuals brightening the premises of the KMC Officers Club. 

The initiatives of Shabbir Ibne Adil and his group of friends augur well for the literary minded community of the metropolis, which has witnessed a dearth of such activities over the years.

Shabbir Ibne Adil, who has had successful career at the Pakistan Television (PTV), deserves to be complimented for devoting his energies towards this cause and it’s being hoped that he will continue working towards goals despite the mixed response he’s likely to receive for the obvious reasons. 

In an era when reading books is on the way to extinction due a combination of factors, it’s incredibly gladdening to find the likes of Shabbir Ibne Adil trying their level best to remind people about its innumerable virtues. 

The intentions of Idarae Ilm Dost look absolutely inspirational and one hopes that the execution will also be generally right although the presence of a few individuals with dubious reputation makes people skeptical about it. 

It remains to be seen if Shabbir Ibne Adil and his team will be able to overcome the people with vested interests, who have been engaged in blocking healthy traditions.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

AKU surgery conference begins on Feb 14

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The 5th AKU (Aga Khan University) Annual Surgical Conference from February 14 to 16 in Karachi will focus on how these precious lives can be saved by following a systematic approach for improving trauma care, training and research. 

As injury kills more people every year than HIV, TB and malaria combined, and the overwhelming majority of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, the theme of this year’s conference is 'Trauma: Striving for Change' will enable the experts and participants to deliberate on those burning issues. 

The conference will bring together national and international experts with expertise in pre-hospital care, mass casualty, rehabilitation, prevention and disaster management. 

On the second day of the conference, the AKU’s upcoming Centre of Excellence for Trauma and Emergencies, and partners will launch a national life-saving initiative focused on trauma care.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Innovative solutions proposed to boost emergency preparedness at schools

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The students, teachers, engineers and experts from different walks of life gathered to design cost-effective and locally-relevant solutions to enhance the ability of schools to manage natural and man-made disasters, during a three-day hackathon at Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development. 

The participants at the event noted that the rare nature of emergencies such as fires, floods and other safety hazards meant that public and private sector schools were unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with such crises. 

Unfortunately, such one-off events can have a disproportionate, and often catastrophic, impact on a school’s operations and stakeholders. That’s why emergency response trainings, safety drills and other means of ensuring emergency preparedness need to be a regular part of a school’s strategic planning and processes, the speakers pointed out. 

The experts added that mitigation measures were often taken in the aftermath of disasters as they called on schools to adopt a forward-thinking approach that considered all possible risks in their environment as well as the processes needed to effectively manage a disaster. 

One of the three winning teams at the event, BVS School Team, highlighted the problem of fires caused by short circuits in computer labs, classrooms and staff rooms. 

They noted that the simple, preventive step of installing a carbon dioxide chamber inside electrical switchboards could stop a potential fire at its source and reduce the threat of loss of life and property. Other teams at the event identified the way safety drills were conducted as being a problem. 

“The customary drills that happen in my school are casually planned. There is no seriousness exhibited on the part of student body or administration. It’s critical that the mindset changes before any calamity strikes again,” Ahsan, a high school student taking part in the hackathon, remarked. 

Team Zords proposed the use of virtual reality (VR) technology to ensure active participation in safety drills. They stated that VR provided an immersive experience for trainees which enhanced the retention of key concepts. The team called on schools to prepare tailored sessions and a ‘safety curriculum’ that would enable them to impart safety drills in a more engaging manner. 

The final winning team at the event, ER Tales, also selected the problem of a lack of attention during drills leading to ineffective response during emergencies and disaster situations. 

They suggested the use of pictorial storybooks as a supplement to drills. The use of stories centered on safety would build interest in the subject and drills could then be used to assess the level of knowledge and ability to effectively respond to a situation. 

During the hackathon, Zara Qadir, a primary school teacher, shared an instance of the impact of effective security drills. 

She recalled hearing a siren in class and seeing her students spring into action to shut the windows and switch off the lights before they all hid under their desks. Zara mistook the siren, which was for an intruder alert, for a fire alarm. 

When she asked students to leave the room to head for the fire assembly point, they responded that they were supposed to hide and stay invisible in order to stay safe. 

“The purpose of our hackathons is not only to mobilise people within the organization, but also to demonstrate the event’s ability to engage the external community in the innovation process. The school preparedness for emergencies hack is a classic example of that democratisation of the innovation process,” Dr Asad Mian, founder of AKU’s Critical Creative Innovative Thinking Forum (CCIT) and chair of emergency medicine at the University, observed. 

"We are thrilled to see the energy and creativity the participants have poured into this hackathon. Creating safe schools is not an afterthought now: it is a priority and the community is working together to design solutions to help schools prepare for emergencies,” Azra Naseem, one of the event’s co-organizers, a faculty member at AKU’s Institute for Educational Development and associate director of the Blended Learning Network at AKU, added. 

The event was organized by AKU's Institute for Educational Development and CCIT forum in collaboration with the University’s departments of emergency medicine, and safety and security.

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.