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Showing posts with label PNFS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PNFS. Show all posts

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.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

New book on Dr Nasim Fatima published


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Another book on Prof Dr Nasim Fatima, a former chairperson of the Library & Information Science department at the University of Karachi, has recently been published under the auspices of the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB). 

The 132-page book titled ‘Dr Nasim Fatima: Bio-Bibliographical Study’ has been edited by one of her students, Huma Mannan Butt, with Abdul Qudoos and Saima Qadeer being the compilers while the foreword has been penned by Syed Khalid Mahmood. 

“She was my teacher and chairperson at Department of Library and Information Science, University of Karachi. She is an asset to the Pakistan librarianship. Widely respected, she has had the quality of respecting each individual to have come across her,” Huma Mannan, now working as Chief Librarian at PN Central Library in Karachi, wrote in her introductory remarks in the book.

“Dr Nasim Fatima has had a tremendous academic record throughout her life. She loves to read and write. She teaches others how to become writer and researcher. She readily has plenty of topics in her mind for research whenever she is approached. She helps each researcher by all means. She has written in English and Urdu languages but feels happier in transferring technical and scientific information in Urdu for the benefit of the masses,” she added. 

Huma Mannan had earlier done a book on her illustrious teacher titled ‘Dr Nasim Fatima: Shakhsiat wa Kam’ which was a compilation of views and opinions about her works. 

Her contributions in literature have been highlighted by Zain Siddiqi in his book ‘Aik Rag-e-Deeger’ which is a tribute to her illustrious writings. 

It may be recalled that Dr Nasim Fatima has been writing on a regular basis in 1975 after her appointment as lecturer in the Library Science department although her first article ‘What you read about Quiad-e-Azam’ was published in Akhbar-e-Khawateen in 1968. She wrote her first book on Allama Iqbal’s chronology in 1976. 

Dr Nasim Fatima has been bringing out a literary magazine ‘Adab-o-Kutub Khana’ since 1979, from the platform of Bazm-e-Akram, and it has become an acclaimed annual publication, of which she is chief editor. 

An author of more than 50 books already, her compilation ‘Faiz Huay Hain Mar Kay Amar’ which was brought out by Jumbo Publishing, has been hailed as splendid and authentic bio-bibliography of the great poet.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Foreword to Dr Nasim Fatima: Bio-Bibliographical Study


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Following is the text of the foreword, penned by Syed Khalid Mahmood, to the recently published book ‘Dr Nasim Fatima: Bio-Bibliographical Study’ highlighting the accomplishments of the prolific library scientist:

“No hard-and-fast rules about forewords, allowing room to be creative and even have some fun, makes the task of penning my maiden foreword simpler than it could have been otherwise for a firm believer and practitioner of out-of-box thinking! 

Indeed it’s a great honour to be asked to write the foreword to such a significant book, bringing to light the accomplishments of Prof Dr Nasim Fatima, the famed library scientist, teacher, scholar, researcher, writer, author, editor and mentor, yet one of the unsung heroes. 

Her multi-faceted personality has been talked about with great awe over the years but she hasn’t been granted the kind of recognition she so richly deserved. On the contrary, she has had to endure some terrifying moments in her long professional career. In fact, she still has to combat some unforeseen challenges from within which don’t make her tasks simpler.

No praise could be too high for her for having overcome the obstacles with the iron will and the never-say-die approach. 

She has fought her way to the top and she’s going to be remembered for her overwhelming contributions for the cause of librarianship in particular and education in general. 

Obviously this book is not going to inform the readers about the trials and tabulations which she had faced, and continues to tackle in achieving the various elusive landmarks. 

Since she seems to have pursued the policy of just letting her work do the talking, without engaging into controversies or making even a noise at the injustices meted out to her from time to time, I am not sure if she will ever take the time out to narrate her tales of horrors and the dream of her autobiography may remain unfulfilled.

Isn’t it surprising, and hints of ungratefulness too, that those so many individuals having been, taught, trained, guided and mentored by her over the decades, didn’t reciprocate by furthering her mission? 

The community of the librarians in particular should wake up before it becomes too late. You people are extremely fortunate to be blessed with such an adorable personality like Prof Dr Nasim Fatima who is ever willing, and smiling, to lend a helping hand to everyone and anyone seeking assistance or guidance. 

 As the founder of the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB), Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, has publicly acknowledged repeatedly, the bureau and its flagship publication, the Pakistan Library & Information Science Journal (PLISJ), have survived for more than a half a century primarily due to her dedication and sacrifices.

I commend the joint efforts of the trio of Huma Mannan Butt, Abdul Qudoos and Saima Qadeer for having done this wonderful book which will surely be helpful in motivating the fraternity of the library professionals besides others. 

Now it’s your responsibility to play the due role in spreading the word and sharing it with the masses. You can pay your tribute to the living legend by promoting the book in your own circles. You will agree with me that this book merits a place in every library of the country.”

Monday, October 14, 2019

Plea to empower volunteer nurses, physicians




By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The community-based palliative care can serve to be a cost-effective method to provide care to individuals undergoing serious illness. 

Training and empowering volunteer nurses and physicians can change how palliative care, a method of care and support of a patient’s well-being by ensuring their physical, social and psychological needs are met, is perceived in Pakistan, according to speakers at the 1st Palliative Care Symposium at Aga Khan University (AKU) which was held on the occasion of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. 

An estimated 40 million people are in need of palliative care in the world and 78 percent of whom live in low and middle-income countries. In Pakistan, there are less 10 health facilities that deliver palliative care under the supervision of trained palliative specialists. 

The speakers at the symposium stressed the importance of palliative medicine and noted that it remains a low-priority issue in Pakistan 

They added that AKU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery has taken the lead in this field by introducing an elective course on palliative care to meet gaps in the national nursing curriculum. There is a need for increasing public awareness and formalising training to establish palliative care opportunities for homes and at the community level, they added 

The patients who receive early palliative care in the course of treatment of disease have to be given less-aggressive care towards the end of their life and have a longer survival rate since it significantly improves their quality of life and mood, according to Dr Ali Haider, an assistant professor of palliative medicine at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center USA. 

Differentiating between hospice and community-based care, speakers noted that while a hospice is a paid practice world-wide, training and volunteering nurses and individuals can be an affordable practice for families to enable better living of patients. 

The speakers at the event also highlighted the role of family physicians in providing holistic palliative care to patients with life-limiting illnesses owing to their accessibility to communities. Due to a physician’s familiarity with patient’s health history, they are able to advice on a multidimensional care model for the family. 

They also spoke about how palliative care is associated with patients suffering from cancer when in reality both patients and families can benefit from it for any illness that may shorten life. Some people also believe that it should be practiced when a doctor has given up on a patient and there is no hope. 

Another myth the speakers tackled was about children’s palliative care that it can only be offered in high-resourced settings when in reality, it can be provided in community health centres and in homes too. 

“Palliative care, on the flipside, ensures living life as fully as possible through compassionate, patient-centred care,” Dr Nasreen Saleem, a senior instructor on palliative care at AKU, remarked. 

The symposium was held in collaboration between the University’s departments of oncology, family medicine, paediatrics and child health and AKU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery. 

The one-day event marking the theme ‘My Care, My Right’ was attended by healthcare professionals, nursing leaders, social workers, health policy makers and medical education.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Pakistan’s unusual suicide issues highlighted


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Married women and single men under the age of 30 in Pakistan are among the groups most likely to commit suicide, according to speakers at a panel session Wellness in the Workplace at Aga Khan University. 

The event was part of a week of sessions and themed activities aimed at spreading awareness of the importance of suicide prevention: the theme for World Mental Health Day 2019. 

The speakers noted that research showed that Pakistan’s highest-risk groups for suicide were different to those in other parts of the world. 

In the West, single men between the age of 50 and 60 are most likely to take their own lives. But in Pakistan, youth of working age, under the age of 30, are most likely to commit suicide which suggested that employers had a role to play in tackling the public health threat of suicide, which claimed about 800,000 lives a year globally, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to global figures, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds with three out of four suicides occurring in low and middle income countries. 

The worthy speakers reckoned that companies needed to establish a culture where people could speak about their challenges and daily stresses without the fear of being judged. 

The forums where employees can openly share their concerns promote wellness in the workplace and reduce the threat of issues such as anxiety and burnout. 

Shagufta Hassan, interim CEO of Aga Khan University Hospital, added that companies should launch professional mentorship programmes so that vulnerable youth had someone they could seek advice from. 

She also highlighted the importance of offices having counselling services where employees facing challenges could access additional help or be referred to professionals. 

Speaking at the event, Atiya Naqvi, a clinical psychologist, noted the importance of friends and family in supporting those going through a difficult time, adding that the mere act of listening to a person’s problems helps reduce anxiety. She also spoke of the need to monitor one’s thought patterns and to communicate one’s concerns with those around them. 

Dr Ayesha Mian, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at AKU, noted that hopelessness and despair are feelings that often exist in people with suicidal ideation. 

She noted that being unable to cope with financial pressures, academic stresses, dysfunctional relationships and bullying were some of the determinants known to lead to passive or active thoughts of suicide. 

“There is a myth that only those patients with mental health disorders will commit suicide. While more often than not, patients who die of suicide have a diagnosed psychiatric illness, there may be those who do not have a mental health disorder. We know that for every one person who takes their life there are ten people actively planning suicide and a 100 with suicidal ideation, which is why prevention efforts are so vital,” Dr Ayesha remarked. 

She also spoke about how compassionate words and actions can help ease feelings of despondency that may lead to pervasive feelings of hopelessness and suicidality in those vulnerable. 

“Talking about suicide doesn’t promote suicide. We often underestimate the importance of listening and acting with compassion even though they help protect against a number of self-harming actions. It is important to listen with sincerity and without fear; if you don’t know what to do, ask the person how would you like me to help,” she advised. 

Over the course of the week, students and staff at the University participated in support group sessions and wellness camps designed to promote mental wellbeing. Students also held a Kindness Walk and organized a Wall of Compassion to showcase the importance of empathy and kindness in preventing harmful thoughts and actions.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Usman Buzdar’s message on World Tourism Day


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Punjab Chief Minister, Sardar Usman Buzdar, in his message on the World Tourism Day (WTD) 2019, shared that a new tourism policy has been prepared besides giving the tourism sector a status of an industry. 

“Pakistan has great tourism potential and effective measures have been adopted to provide best facilities to tourists, along with improving tourist spots,” he stated. 

"Improving tourism is among the top priorities of the government and the Punjab government is working to facilitate tourists as one hundred and seventy-seven rest houses have already been opened for public in Punjab,” the Chief Minister remarked.

Imran Khan’s message on World Tourism Day


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his message on the World Tourism Day (WTD) 2019, pointed out that the country was blessed with natural beauty and had enormous opportunities of tourism. 

“The tourism sector plays a pivotal role in socio-economic growth. It also provides an impetus for employment opportunities and promotion of entrepreneurial activities, globally,” he recognized. 

“The tourism experience provides synergies between communities having diverse cultural backgrounds. It also enables people to adapt themselves to the cutting-edge traveling facilities of modern days,” the Prime Minister remarked. 

“Pakistan has immense potential in tourism sector. It generates economic activities, brings in valuable foreign exchange and generates investors' interest in the tourism sector by attracting myriad foreign tourists. Influx of visitors is also correlated to law and order situation,” Imran Khan added. 

“The present government is giving due priority to the tourism sector. The government is devoted to introduce policies, infrastructure development, institutional empowerment and improvement in service delivery for attracting tourists,” he assured.

Dr Arif Alvi’s message on World Tourism Day

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The President of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi, in his message on the World Tourism Day (WTD) 2019, observed that the significance of world's tourism industry as a major source of employment and poverty alleviation is undeniable. 

“Tourism is a key to earning foreign exchange and an effective tool to bring diverse people close to one another, thereby promoting tolerance. Therefore, Pakistan celebrates the World Tourism Day as a nation proud of its glorious past and cultural heritage,” the President remarked. 

“The tourism sector plays a key role in enhancing socio-economic status of a country and uplifting the standard of life of local population,” he added. 

“The government is fully aware of the immense tourism potential in Pakistan and is aiming to transform it into a vital industry,” the President noted. 

“Pakistan is home to rich cultural heritage, most significantly Indus valley, world's ancient civilization. We are motivated to make Pakistan an attractive tourist destination by attracting both local and foreign tourists,” Dr Arif Alvi pledged.

PTDC celebrate World Tourism Day



By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) played its due role by celebrating the World Tourism Day (WTD) 2019 rather proactively on September 27. 

Besides hosting a seminar on the theme ‘Tourism and Jobs: A better future for all’ at the Postal College Auditorium in Islamabad, the PTDC also organized Rock Climbing Competition, a Cycling Rally & Walk, Tourism Gala at F-9 Park and a City Bus tour of SOS village children in the federal capital to reflect on the importance of tourism and raise awareness about sustainable tourism in the country. 

It’s gladdening indeed to find the PTDC furthering the initiatives of the government and engaging into such activities aimed at boosting the tourism industry in particular and the country’s economy in general. 

The PTDC, with the collaboration of the Islamabad Cycling Association (ICA), organized a cycling rally and awareness walk around the Fatima Jinnah Park, located in F-9 sector. 

More than 500 participants, wearing beautifully designed World Tourism Day T-shirts and carrying flags of Pakistan, took part in the event which was witnessed by a large number of area people and their families. 

The PTDC, in collaboration with the Pakistan Adventure Club (PAC), organized a rock climbing activity at Lake View Point in which more than 300 students from different schools of Islamabad took part. 

The participating students appreciated the organizers for holding such healthy touristic activities in the federal capital. 

The events also included a day trip of SOS Village’s students to the different tourist points of Islamabad, Pakistan Monument, Lok Virsa, Faisal Mosque, Lake View Park and Dam-e-Koh, packaged with recreation and infotainment.

PTDC host World Tourism Day seminar


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The World Tourism Day (WTD) 2019 was celebrated in a befitting manner by the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) on September 27. 

The PTDC organized a seminar on the theme ‘Tourism and Jobs: A better future for all’ at the Postal College Auditorium in Islamabad to mark the occasion as September 27 witnessed many other activities to highlight the significance of day. 

The seminar emphasized on the role of tourism in job creation, social inclusion and poverty alleviation all over the world as the experts shared their views. 

It was attended by a large number of professionals from tourism sector, tour operators, travel agents, stakeholders and officers of public sector organizations engaged in tourism promotion. 

Syed Intikhab Alam, Managing Director, PTDC in his opening remarks, spoke about the role of tourism in job creation as it held around 10% share of the total jobs in the global economy. 

He was of the opinion that the initiatives taken by the present government would help achieve the targets of creating more jobs for women and youth in particular. 

Malik Amin Aslam Khan, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Climate Change, in his speech, narrated the importance of sustainable tourism to meet with the challenges of global warming and climate change. 

He reckoned that tourism and environment had strong linkages and close coordination could raise supplement efforts of both in raising awareness about Eco-tourism and sustainable tourism. 

Sheikh Siddique, Additional Secretary, Cabinet Division, regretted that Pakistan, blessed with so many ingredients of tourism, could not tap the potential yet. 

He, however, added that the policies and the current initiatives of the present government in this matter augured well for the revitalization of the tourism sector. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Pakistan to host World Tourism Forum


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan will be playing host to the World Tourism Forum (WTF) in 2020. The decision in this regard was taken during a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and a delegation of the WTF in Islamabad on August 9. 

The WTF delegation was led by the President of its executive board, Bulut Bagci while the chairman of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), Syed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, was also present in the meeting. 

Over 1,000 foreigners are expected to attend the five-day proceedings of the forum in Islamabad next year. The date of the event will be announced later.

The WTF is an Istanbul-based organization, dedicated to developing tourism around the world with its annual meetings. It was founded under Bulut Bağcı’s leadership in 2014. 

The WTF principally intends to develop tourism around the world. Accordingly, it was launched in 2015 following the extensive connections in 2014. 

The event is organized four times a year in global centers around the world under the auspices of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey. It brings together global tourism leaders and tourism industry representatives. Regional meetings are held three times a year in different cities around the world, and one annual Global Meeting is held annually in February, in Istanbul.

New tourist resorts planned in Balochistan

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Prime Minister Imran Khan has declared that the government was making all out efforts for promotion of tourism in the country and new tourist resorts would be developed in coastal areas of Balochistan. 

Maintaining that there existed great potential in different areas of tourism in the country needs to be exploited, the Prime Minister made the announcement during his meeting with a delegation of the World Tourism Forum (WTF) which called on him in Islamabad on August 9. 

He informed the delegation that eight new tourism resorts would be developed in eight coastal areas in Balochistan, emphasizing that natural beauty, social values and environmental protection would be ensured for promotion of tourism.

Earlier this year, the government had announced a new visa policy for 175 countries to promote tourism and investments in the country. The visitors from these countries will be able to apply for an online visa. As per the new visa policy, e-visa facility will initially be provided to five countries namely Turkey, China, Malaysia, United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Think-thank launched at AKU


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The health professionals at Aga Khan University have launched a new think tank, AKUPI-NCD, in partnership with experts from a variety of sectors, in order to recommend novel, integrated approaches to address the threat of non-communicable diseases (NCDs): the leading cause of death in the country.

Approximately 80 million Pakistanis are living with one or more NCDs, a set of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, conditions caused by tobacco abuse, and mental disorders, that are predominantly caused by poor lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors such as pollution and urbanization. 

Despite being the country’s top cause of death and the leading cause of poor quality of life, the country continues to pursue a fragmented approach with little coordination among stakeholders, experts said. Pakistan is far from meeting the targets set by the WHO for the National Systems Response for NCDs. 

“NCDs aren’t a problem for the healthcare sector alone. These diseases have complex causes and long-lasting consequences and their costs to society extend far beyond lost productivity and stunted economic growth. That’s because of the cost of treating advanced cases of NCDs drive many families into poverty and makes them dependent on the government or other actors in society,” AKU’s Professor Zainab Samad, chair of the initiative, remarked.

The demographics of today’s Pakistan mean that NCDs are a particularly pressing problem. Speakers noted that the majority of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30 and warned that the coming decades could see a rising burden of these illnesses in an aging population. 

“NCDs are silent killers which continue to go unnoticed. The Airblue crash of 2010 claimed 125 lives and the public attention to the tragedy resulted in immediate regulatory action. NCDs cause 14 times as many deaths every day yet there is an absence of coordinated action from government and civil society on the issue,” Professor Wasay remarked. 

The think tank’s inaugural meeting brought together officials from the insurance, market research, non-profit, banking and public sector to discuss the creation of an integrated plan. The presence of this plan would demonstrate the think tank’s long-term vision and enable stakeholders to coordinate their efforts, speakers noted. 

AKU’s Professor Wasay, AKUPI-NCD co-chair, called on stakeholders to consider partnering on initiatives in three areas: education and training, policy advocacy and awareness, and research. 

“NCDs are preventable. Efforts to forestall their onset must begin at home at an early age. As a starting point, he noted that advocacy measures should revolve around lifestyle modification campaigns in which media organizations and schools can help disseminate information about the risks posed by tobacco use, a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits," he said.

The experts noted that education and training initiatives can make an immediate impact in the area hypertension as the condition often goes undiagnosed until it leads to life-threatening complications such as stroke. 

Commenting on research initiatives, Professor Wasay added that market research firms, insurance companies and public sector institutions all have information that can be analyzed to determine the most effective course of action for each type of NCD. 

Besides pooling together data, experts noted that the establishment of a central data point would advance the study of the public health impact of NCDs. 

There were a number of other experts at the event from the finance, insurance, public health and data science industries as well as representatives from the National Institute of Health and Ministry of National Health Services and Regulation.