Saturday, April 29, 2017

HIV Testing, Treatment and Referral Centre available at AKUH

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The National AIDS Control Programme in coordination with the Sind AIDS Control Program has established the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) as the HIV Treatment and Referral Centre.

The public-private partnership aims to encourage HIV-affected individuals to get tested and seek appropriate treatment for HIV in a private and confidential manner. 

Karachi alone has the highest number of HIV patients across Sindh, as revealed in a report by SACP. This is primarily attributed to the lack of awareness regarding the disease and its treatment, as well as the unavailability of HIV screening and a shortage of medicines. 

AKUH has the largest group of Infectious Diseases specialists in the country which makes this Centre unique as it will provide treatment to both adults and children infected with HIV, as well as offering facilities for the prevention of parent to child transmission all under one roof.

At the same time the Centre will also serve as a referral site to manage complicated cases referred from other Centers around the country. 

Given the long history of education and research at the AKUH, the Centre will provide hands on training to other HIV care providers on the management of this complex disease and serve to coordinate HIV research in the country. 

Utilizing the vast network of the AKUH laboratory collection points, and with the help of the Global Fund, the AKUH will provide viral load testing (lab test that measures the number of HIV virus particles in a millilitre of your blood) for HIV patients and free of cost medicines throughout the country. 

The Centre aims to treat 600 patients in a year. At the inauguration ceremony, AKUH Professor and Chief, Dr Bushra Jamil gave special thanks to Dr Abdul Baseer Khan Achakzai (National Programme Manager, NACP), Dr Muhammad Younis Chachar (Programme manager, SACP) and Dr Sofia Furqan (Senior Programme Officer, NACP) for their continuous help and support in making this HIV Treatment and Referral Centre possible. 

Speaking on the need to pay attention to the rising numbers of HIV-affected population, Dr Bushra said that trained health care professionals in both government and private settings will have to put in a concerted effort to prevent the situation from escalating through a multipronged approach. HIV compromises a person’s immune system and restricts the body’s ability to fights organisms that cause diseases. 

HIV can lead to the development of AIDS, which is a chronic, life-threatening condition and is the final stage of infection causing eventual death. Pakistan is one of the few countries where there is a lack of awareness regarding HIV/AIDS. 

People have been hesitant in getting themselves screened or treated as the disease is considered culturally taboo and is associated with a stigma of shame. However, with increasing access to medical care, this trend is slowly changing.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Closer election battles predicted in Sindh

By Rashid Zia Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Syed Zain Shah, a leader of the Sindh United Party (SUP), feels that the incumbents from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) may not be able to retain their slots in the 2018 general elections due to the emergence of new political parties. 

Addressing a press conference in Nawabshah, the SUP leader expressed his reservations about the governance in the province, claiming that parties like the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) were on the rise as reflected by their recent massive public gathering at Dadu. 

“Agriculture has been struck with irreparable losses due to inconsistent policies. Canal water is not available to growers as a result of which crops faced damages. Better management is the need of the hour,” he suggested. 

He appreciated Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and said that the federal government did extend subsidy on fertilizers. Syed Zain Shah demanded holding of transparent general elections and also the population and house census under the supervision of army. 

He urged that the jobs be given in the departments of education, police, revenue and irrigation purely on merit in accordance with the guidelines of the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC).

Thursday, April 20, 2017

MECHU project treats over 200,000 patients free of cost

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Mobile Emergency Healthcare Unit (MECHU) project of Government of Sindh’s Special Initiative Department (SID) has already treated well over 200,000 patients free of cost in the various districts of the province in less than one year duration.

The MECHU, which had commenced operations in June 2016, has treated more than two lac patients in a matter of 10 and a half months and it expects to serve larger number of people with the acquisition of more resources in future. 

In the ADP 2014-15, the SID of the Government of Sindh had initiated the MECHU project for the welfare of the people. 

The project envisaged procurement of 16 mobile hospitals which became operational by June 2016 to provide free medical treatment and facilities to the inhabitants of remote and far-flung areas of the province on a regular basis besides playing its role in calamities. 

The operation of the units was outsourced to a private organization, having more than decade long experience in medical equipment and management services. They have been entrusted with the responsibility of overall operation of the mobile hospitals including provision of free medicines. 

The MECHU Project Director, Sardar Abdul Nabi Thaheem, who is serving as the Senior Chief in the Planning and Development department of the Government of Sindh, has played the key role in the overall management of the venture to make it a success story from the outset. 

Abdul Nabi Thaheem, also the President of The Petarian Association, a representative body of the former students of the famed institution, Cadet College Petaro, has been chiefly responsible for running the project with missionary zeal with the help of his dedicated team. 

“The facilities in our Mobile Hospitals include complete diagnostic and treatment facilities with free medicines. Besides the laboratory test facilities, they also provide X-ray and ultrasound facilities. Minor general surgery as well as minor gynecology surgery is also performed there,” the MECHU Project Director revealed. 

“We had set targets of 25,000 to 30,000 patients and conducting approximately 10,000 laboratory tests per month. We are happy to have met these targets from the outset. As all our activities are monitored on day to day to basis we are in a position to know where we stand at the end of every day. It’s very satisfying to be able to provide free basic health facilities to the needy at their doorsteps and also arrange for their medicines free of cost,” Abdul Nabi Thaheem reckoned. 

“Fully computerized data of the patients being treated under the MECHU project is being maintained for monitoring purposes. The project is also proving useful in creating awareness and educating the people in the rural areas about the importance of health,” he added. 

Currently the MECHU hospital units are working in the districts of Tharparkar, Dadu, Thatta, Badin, Jamshoro and Shikarpur. They had also taken part in attending to the victims of the tragic attack on the shrine of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan a couple of months ago. 

The mobile unit of MECHU which was stationed in Sehwan and operating in a nearby village was rushed to the spot and it had provided timely and full rescue assistance alongwith through its medical male and female staff besides arranging medicine for the Taluka Hospital administration.

Friday, April 14, 2017

PNFS honours Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, Syed Masood-ul-Hasan Shah

PNFS Report

The Pakistan News and Features Services (PNFS) hosted a dinner reception in the honour of eminent intellectuals, Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari and Syed Masood-ul-Hasan Shah, at the KDA Officers Club, Karachi, on April 13. 

Rauf Akhtar Farooqui, a former Administrator of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), was the chief guest in the ceremony which was attended by professionals from the various walks of life. 

Abdul Qadir Qureshi, a veteran journalist now heading PNFS, welcomed the two stalwarts, one from the field of library and information science and the other one being a career journalist. 

“Both these gentlemen, having proven track record in their respective professions, have now relocated to the United States (US) and interestingly they spend their summers in the nearby cities of Texas. We are fortunate enough to have roped them together for this evening,” Abdul Qadir Qureshi stated in his opening remarks. 

“Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, as we all know, is one of the founders of library and information science in Pakistan. His not-for-profit organization, Library Promotion Bureau (LPB), has served the cause of the profession for more than 50 years. Syed Masood-ul-Hasan Shah worked as the Director of Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) besides being its Karachi Bureau Chief. He was also posted as the APP Correspondent in Beijing China,” the PNFS founder recalled. 

Chief guest Rauf Akhtar Farooqui wholeheartedly praised both the visiting guests from the US for having excelled in their respective undertakings over a long period of time. 

Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, on the occasion, presented copies of a couple of his books to Rauf Akhtar Farooqui, who considered them worthy to be ranked among world’s best publications.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Engr Z A Nizami’s services eulogized

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The outstanding and unmatched services rendered by Engr ZA Nizami, particularly in the establishment of first-ever engineering university in the private sector named after the great reformer and educationist Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and development of Karachi as a real metropolis, would not be forgotten for all the times to come. 

"The book titled ‘The Journey Through Islamic Structure’ compiled by the late Engr Nizami is an asset not only for the present but also the coming generations, specially benefiting the engineering students for a long period."

This was stated by the Chancellor of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Jawaid Anwar, on the occasion of launching of the book at a grand ceremony held at KDA Officer's Club. 

The Chancellor said that Engr Nizami, who was the first Chancellor of SSUET, pursued the missionary vision of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and laid the base of the traditions and values of the SSUET and its present administration was striving to improve the educational standard on the same principals. 

He pointed out that the Aligarh Muslim University served as a laboratory which produced great people, history-making persons, technocrats and scholars. 

Speaking on the occasion, former Federal Minister Haji Hanif Tayyab, recalled the services of the late Nizami and said that he was the one who started Karachi's development with the launch of on 36 projects while he was Director General of Karachi Development Authority (KDA). These projects, besides development of the city, led to creation of job opportunities for score of educated youth and also provided opportunities to poor and talented students for higher education. 

Engr Anwer Ali, Convenor, Aligarh Institute of Technology (AIT), described late Engr Nizami a person having fear of Allah and possessed a great sense of self-confidence. He was a world class Town Planner and it was for this reason that Saudi Government once invited him to seek benefit out of his experience and skills for use in the expansion project of Holy Kaaba. 

He said that his services will always be remembers particularly in the expansion and development of Karachi while he played the key role in the establishment of the SSUET. 

Recounting the life of Engr Z A Nizami, a former Provincial Minister Dost Muhammad Faizi said that he had great regard for traditions and desire for serving the poor recalling that during his tenure as DG KDA he used to extend loan from KDA fund to meet the financial demands of Sindh Government while now the same KDA was seeking funds for paying salaries of its employees. 

He transformed a department into a big development organization and provided low cost plots for residential facilities to citizens apart from parks, sports grounds, prayer places and educational institutions. 

Justice Feroze Yousuf, Rizwan Siddiqui, former Chancellor SSUET, Adil Usman, Tariq Nizami, Begum Qamarunissa Qamar, Farrukh Nizami and Hammad, a former student of Sir Syed University also spoke on the occasion paying glowing tributes to Engr Nizami and recalling his long list of achievements. 

The grand function was organized by the family members of the late Z A Nizami and the KDA Club. The pictorial book written in English has been compiled and published by his son Tariq Nizami. 

A large number of people from different walks of life, including the SSUET Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawed H Rizvi and the SSUET Registrar, Syed Sarfraz Ali, were present on the occasion.

Monday, April 10, 2017

AKUH, KSDP collaborate to provide one-stop Health Solution for Down syndrome families in Pakistan

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) has collaborated with the Karachi Down Syndrome Program (KDSP) to offer the first of its kind, ‘one stop health solution’ having made it easy for parents to bring their children to conveniently see different specialists at AKUH, in one clinic.

Up until now, parents in Pakistan would struggle to find the appropriately trained specialists to treat separate health challenges faced by their Down syndrome children, often fleeing from one hospital to another, and finding it’s all a wild goose chase. 

A team of internationally trained and experienced child specialists practicing at the AKUH, led by Dr Salman Kirmani and Dr Babar Hasan, joined forces with the world renowned Down syndrome expert, Dr Brain G. Skotko, as well as the founder of KSDP, Ali Allawala, and staff, to share best clinical practices for Down syndrome management at a session held in the AKU auditorium. 

This session was attended by medical professionals and students, Down syndrome parents and families as well as supporters of the cause. Speaking about the launch, Dr Salman commented: “The new Down syndrome Clinic at the AKUH became possible because of conversations with KDSP. We have been informally working with KDSP for three years, and now spreading the word so the medical community is aware and can guide these individuals to the Down syndrome clinics where all their healthcare needs can be met.” 

On the occasion, Ali Allawala said: “I am proud to see the formal launch of the Down Syndrome Clinic at the AKUH, which will not just give people with this condition the treatment they need, but also enhance the skill set of doctors responsible for their care.” 

While speaking live from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, on this occasion of the first Down Syndrome Clinic launch in Pakistan, Dr Brian Skotko observed: “According to a research study by the American School of Medical Genetics about self-perceptions from people with Down syndrome, about 99% expressed being happy with their lives”, and even though it is challenge and adjustment for families, 99% of the parents, and 97% of the siblings, love their child/sibling with Down syndrome.” 

Around the world, one child in every 1000 is born with Down syndrome. Down syndrome is a condition in which babies are born with extra genetic material from chromosome 21. At first many parents are in denial and then those that find acceptance and have the financial means, begin to seek help, only to find that resources in Pakistan are few and far between. 

The KSDP, officially launched in 2014, is run by parents for parents to provide a network of support, information and promote the acceptance of Down syndrome in society. 

Children born with Down syndrome are at increased risk of certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. 

The degree of these conditions varies greatly from child to child. However, many of these conditions are now treatable, and early medical intervention can help people with Down syndrome lead long and healthy lives.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

SSUET Chancellor greets eminent scholars

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Jawaid Anwar, Chancellor, Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, warmly welcomed Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari and Prof Dr Nasim Fatima, two of the most prolific library science scholars of the country, who called on him at the campus on April 6.

The SSUET Chancellor wholeheartedly congratulated the duo for their accomplishments in the field of library science, particularly their contribution in running the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB) for more than 50 years. 

“You have done an exceptional service to the nation. Your scholastic brilliance has inspired and motivated a lot of people of various generations. You have not only enriched the arena of library science but you have also made a significant contribution to Urdu literature. Your achievements merit wider recognition,” the Chancellor complimented. 

“It’s really marvelous that you have continued working with missionary zeal without caring for the support from the other stakeholders. That should be the spirit. We should do our best without waiting for others to do it. You have proved your selflessness by devoting your life to the cause of the profession without being materialistic at any stage,” Chancellor Jawaid Anwar added.

Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari and Prof Dr Nasim Fatima presented copies of their latest books to the SSUET Chancellor who gifted them a copy of his iconic publication ‘Muslim World Almanac’ to both the learned guests. 

The Chancellor shared the programmes being held in connection with the 200th birth anniversary of the legendary Sir Syed Ahmed Khan which is being celebrated during the current year by the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA) of which he is the President. 

Both the distinguished scholars appreciated the vision of the AMUOBA and they conveyed their best wishes for the success of the ongoing programmes aimed at educating the present generation about the monumental role of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan in the reawakening of Muslims of South Asia. 

“A lot has been written on Sir Syed over the years. But we need to keep reminding the youth in particular about the various aspects of his personality. More books should be published to highlight his contributions and the electronic and digital media should also be used for spreading the word,” they reckoned. 

The meeting was also attended by Arshad Khan, Secretary General, AMUOBA, and Dr Amna Khatoon, a member of Executive Committee of the Pakistan Library Association (PLA), Sindh Chapter.