Monday, May 21, 2018

New cookbook celebrates Pakistan’s cultural cuisine

Pakistan News & Features Services

The legend has it that the early cookbooks were meant for the kings as the oldest published recipe collections of the 15th and the 16th centuries emanated from the palaces of monarchs and princes.

Those were the times when no one was trying to build a business out of selling cookbooks. Instead, they were often created within a court culture, partly intended as assistants for chief stewards and partly for royalty to demonstrate the luxury of their banquets. 

The advent of technology broadened cookbooks’ intended audiences. During the following centuries, publishers began putting out cookbooks and their production of cookbooks increased manifolds during the second half of the 20th century, an era of unprecedented food abundance. 

Since then there was been phenomenal rise in both television shows on cooking as well as publication of cookbooks. 

Cookbooks have also been immensely popular in Pakistan and there have been quite a few handy publications in the past. 

The latest in the list is a book in Urdu titled ‘Zaiqon Ki Sargam’ which could be described as the celebration of Pakistan’s cultural cuisine. 

A wide variety of recipes for traditional Pakistani and sub-continental cultural dishes, rhapsody of taste, has been put together from different areas of Pakistan along with typical family recipes, collected with the help of friends and families, in this book authored by Zeenat Azra Khan. 

The author had migrated from South India to Pakistan with her parents in early 1950s. She is author of From My Table to Yours. Whereas her first book was on international cuisine, she has now presented a variety of recipes on traditional Pakistani and sub-continental dishes in A Rhapsody of Cuisine. 

Published by Paramount Books, one of the market leaders in the trade, Zaiqon Ki Sargam not only contains a combination of cultural recipes but also provides the reader with interesting anecdotes and background of some dishes.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

AKU study reveals hypertension growth in rural Sindh

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

 A study exploring the risk posed by high blood pressure in rural areas of Sindh has found alarmingly low awareness of the disease, and numerous cases of uncontrolled blood pressure despite the use of medication.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often seen as a ‘lifestyle disease’ that is common in urban areas where risk factors such as stress, poor eating habits and a lack of exercise are common. 

However, findings from a baseline survey conducted by Aga Khan University in 10 rural areas of Thatta, released on May 17, World Hypertension Day, point to the disease being a public health threat in rural areas as well. 

One in three adults in Pakistan is already living with high blood pressure, according to statistics from the World Health Organization. The study noted a similar prevalence in rural areas with one in five adults over the age of 40 living with hypertension. 

Researchers also found low awareness of the disease with six out of ten people suffering from high blood pressure not knowing that they had the disease. Even those taking medication were at a high risk of health complications associated with hypertension since the survey found that more than seven out of ten people on anti-hypertensive drugs continued to suffer from uncontrolled blood pressure.

The baseline survey was part of an ongoing multi-country collaborative trial Primary Care Strategies to Reduce High Blood Pressure: A Cluster Randomized Trial in Rural Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  
One of the striking findings of the study was the prevalence of inadequate treatment for hypertension as nearly 90 per cent of individuals in the study were only taking a single blood pressure drug. 

However, effective control of blood pressure requires most patients to take more than one anti-hypertensive medication. 

Moreover, the study found that just under half of all patients (48 per cent) were not taking their medicines regularly which also increased their vulnerability to the disease. High blood pressure is a major contributor to heart disease, the leading cause of death in Pakistan, and can also lead to the onset of other non-communicable diseases such diabetes, stroke and kidney disease. 

“Hypertension has reached epidemic levels in Pakistan and other South Asian countries,” Dr Imtiaz Jehan, associate professor at AKU and principal investigator of the study in Pakistan, remarked. 

“We must focus on how to prevent new cases and on ways to improve existing hypertension management care. We plan to use insights from our ongoing study to determine which solutions can be integrated into the public healthcare systems thereby saving the most lives.” 

The control and prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as hypertension is a global health priority with targets under goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals calling for a one-third reduction in deaths caused by such diseases by 2030. 

“The growing burden of non-communicable diseases in Pakistan means that this trial will generate evidence that is likely to inform much needed NCD care program planning which will improve the performance of health systems,” Dr Sameen Siddiqui, chair of the department of community health sciences at AKU, observed. 

The study’s principal investigator Professor Tazeen Jafar from Duke National University of Singapore Medical School said: "The majority of individuals with treated hypertension have uncontrolled blood pressure in rural Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh with significant disparities among and within countries. Urgent public health efforts are needed to improve access and adherence to anti-hypertensive medications in disadvantaged populations in rural South Asia.” 

The study in Pakistan is part of a multi-country research collaboration called COBRA-BPS (Control of Blood Pressure and Risk Attenuation – Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Mayor praises KMC fire fighters

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Mayor of Karachi, Wasim Akhtar, has declared the fire fighters as heroes, complimenting them for putting their own life in danger to save lives and property of other people.

“The World Fire Fighters Day reminds us the sacrifices of fire fighters and great work which they did all over the world. The fire brigade of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) will be provided modern facilities and all necessary equipment and apparatus which are required to put off fire in any metropolitan city. The Sindh government as well as the federal government have been requested to provide funds for fire brigade so that this department could be made even more effective and better,” he remarked in his message on on the World Fire Fighter’s Day celebrated on May 4. 

Mayor Wasim Akhtar stated that Karachi was a big city where many industrial zones as well as commercial centers with high rise buildings existed along with densely populated areas where in case of fire eruption, fire brigade has to take instant action and reach the site of incident and start the fire extinguishing operation.

“In order to enable our fire fighters do their important job effectively and safely we need to fulfill their requirements and provide them with maximum machinery, vehicles and equipment so that they could perform in any situation,” he said.

He added that upgrading fire brigade in the city was included in the annual development plan and fire fighters have been provided with better facilities. 

The Mayor acknowledged that the fire fighters of KMC had performed excellently in past despite of having no modern equipment and machinery to put off fire in the city therefore they deserved our praise and appreciation.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Karachi Mayor reviews Nazimabad underpass development works

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Mayor of Karachi, Wasim Akhtar, regretted that no attention was paid on the maintenance of city underpasses during the decade alleging that the Sindh Government was only doing development works on papers as none of the ministers or even MPA was seen on roads, unwilling to leave their air-conditioned rooms for the cause of a city not belonging to them. 

“80 percent of our Rs 80-crore budget being spent on sewerage works and I will send the bill of sewerage works to the Sindh Government. We are doing development works on the ground and are among the people. We are third tier of government and I have full support of the elected city council.”

He expressed these views while talking to media representatives on a visit to Nazimabad underpass on May 3 to review and inspect the road carpeting and other uplift works. 

MNA Kanwar Naveed Jamil, MPA Mahfooz Yar Khan, Vice Chairman DMC Central Shakir Ali, Chairman of City Council Works Committee Hassan Naqvi, MC Central Afaq Saeed, Chief Engineer and Executive Engineer were also present on this occasion. 

 The Mayor informed that the road carpeting work in the Nazimabad, Liaquatabad and Gharibabad underpasses was being done with a cost of Rs two crores.

He said that besides improving the roads in underpasses, their drainage system will also be made better and whole system will be overhauled to make these underground corridors safe and convenient for citizens. 

Wasim Akhtar remarked that in past these underpasses were having lot of problems and street crimes happened there whereas many people got injured and killed in accidents in these underpasses but no one paid attention to this serious problem of Karachi. 

He said with the start of uplift works in the underpasses rain water will not stay in these passes during rains and citizens would have this facility to use them in rainy season also. The Mayor of Karachi stated that the elected representatives were in regular contact with the people in their area and all development works being done under their guidance and consultation.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Typhoid vaccine approved in Pakistan

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A new typhoid conjugate vaccine is to be added to the National Expanded Programme for Immunization following new evidence about the threat posed by a strain of typhoid that is extremely difficult to treat with antibiotics.

An outbreak of extensively drug resistant (XDR) typhoid in Hyderabad has already affected many children. The research from Aga Khan University (AKU), presented at the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group meeting in Islamabad, shows that cases are now appearing in Karachi, rural areas on the outskirts of Sindh, as well as in Quetta and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

The results of an emergency vaccination campaign launched by the Sindh health department in the worst-affected talukas of Hyderabad in January 2018 were also presented. The data showed that the typhoid conjugate vaccine was safe with no adverse events being noted in 99.7 per cent of children who received doses. 

The Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination will now submit an application to GAVI, a global, public-private partnership committed to increasing access to immunization, to seek funding for the vaccination.

“The recent GAVI commitment of US$ 85 million in funding to support the introduction of typhoid conjugate vaccines is a great opportunity for Pakistan. We have previously introduced vaccines against pneumonia, diarrhea and the injectable polio vaccine. The launch of the typhoid vaccine will be another step towards improving the immunity of our children against disease,” Dr Syed Saqlain Ahmad Gilani, national programme manager for the federal Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI), stated. 

With this addition, the EPI would vaccinate children against 10 deadly diseases like diphtheria, hepatitis B, meningitis, measles, childhood tuberculosis, tetanus, pneumonia, whooping cough, polio and now typhoid. 

“We are running out of medicines that can treat typhoid as the new XDR strain is resistant to five classes of antibiotics. Immunization is the only feasible option we have left against this superbug and since this vaccine has been demonstrated to be safe, we now need to intensify our efforts to bring it to every child in Pakistan,” Farah Qamar, associate professor of paediatrics at AKU, explained. 

Over 1,000 cases of XDR typhoid have been noted in Hyderabad and Karachi since 2016; this is alarming since only six cases of drug-resistant typhoid were found in the whole of Pakistan over a five-year period between 2009 and 2014. 

 Dr Anita Zaidi, Director of Vaccine Development, Surveillance, and Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and an AKU alumna, was also involved in global efforts to generate evidence of the efficacy for this vaccine against typhoid fever. 

“For too long, typhoid, which invariably affects the world’s poorest people, has been neglected in efforts to improve global health. With this new vaccine, the first-ever to be useful for preventing typhoid in young children countries, will finally be able to protect millions of children who are most vulnerable to this deadly disease,” she observed.

The research and advocacy efforts were backed by a team at AKU including Professor Rumina Hasan, Professor Zahra Hasan and Dr Sadia Shakoor from the department of pathology and microbiology, Dr Farah Qamar, Dr Tahir Yousafzai and Dr Momin Kazi from the department of paediatrics and child health at AKU. 

The control and prevention of water-borne diseases such as typhoid is a global health priority with targets under goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals calling for the eradication of such diseases by 2030.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Sheeba Sultan’s Daldal Ke Paar narration enthralls Readers Club

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

Sheeba Sultan’s mesmerized the audience by having narrated a few chapters of her book ‘Daldal Ke Paar’ in the weekly meeting of The Readers Club at the Defence Authority Club on April 5.

The young author has touched upon some of the burning issues in her book of short stories, written in Urdu, in a very impressive manner and it’s deemed to be one of those books whose content could be expanded as well as dramatized. 

Sheeba Rose Sultan, currently pursuing Masters in Science (Applied Linguistics) from the NED University, holds Masters in English Linguistics from the University of Karachi and Masters in Religious Studies from the Malaysian Theological Seminary. 

Having been associated with reputable private sector educational institutions since 2005, she has provided mentoring and consultation to trainee teachers since 2005.

Her work experience also includes the heading of O Levels private schools since the past couple of years.

While speaking at length to explain why she had dedicated the book to her maternal grandmother with whom she had very close affiliation for a long period of time, she also threw light on the virtues of having a close-knit family which made her own life very comfortable and thoroughly pleasing.

In her book, published by Academy Bazyaft, one of the stories related to the blues of social media and the changes it has brought about in the character and temperament of the people in the society, particularly among the young generation. 

The interactive session was immensely enlightening as the worthy members of The Readers Club came up with interesting queries which ensued healthy discussion. 

Sheeba Sultan, who regretted the lack of reading habits among the youngsters, was pleased with the response of the audience, comprising mostly of senior citizens, who lavishly praised her book. 

Sabuha Khan, Chairperson of The Readers Club, also lauded the enthusiastic young author for having enlivened the proceedings for more than hour and a half. 

Founded in 2001, The Readers Club, registered as The Readers Club Foundation under the Trust Act of 1882 as a non-profit organization, pursues the objective of promoting reading culture in Pakistan. Barring gazette holidays, it meets every Thursday with one attendee reviewing a book that he or she has read. The format for weekly meetings has remained consistent and every week there is a 60-minute book presentation followed by 30 minutes of interactive session.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Zakir Ali Khan eulogized in book launch

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Glowing tributes were paid to the late Engr Zakir Ali Khan, a former Secretary General of the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA), during the launch of a book titled ‘Zakir-e-Sir Syed’ held at Karachi’s historic Frere Hall on March 30.

Published by the Muhammad Zakir Ali Khan Foundation, ‘Zakir-e-Sir Syed’ has been authored by a famous Indian scholar, Professor Abu Sufiyan Islahi, who had flown in all the way from Aligarh to grace the ceremony as the chief guest. 

The function, attended by a large number of intellectuals, mostly Aligarhians, was presided over by General Moinuddin Haider, a former Governor of Sindh and an ex-Federal Minister for Interior, while Rizwan Siddiqui, a prolific writer and orator, conducted the proceedings. 

Muhammad Akbar Ali Khan, a son of the late Engr Zakir Ali Khan, and his wife Erum Khan, who have established the foundation, organized the book launch ceremony in a befitting manner. 

Farrukh Nizami, a son of the late Engr Z A Nizami, who served the AMUOBA as its President with distinction for a number of years until his death in 2013, also attended the ceremony alongwith Engr Adil Usman, a former President of AMUOBA, and Jawaid Anwar, President, AMUOBA.

General Moinuddin Haider, in his speech, highlighted the contributions of the late Zakir Ali Khan during what he described as an illustrious career. 

“He played a long and dignified innings. An honest government officer to the core, he was born for social service. He was a selfless man who took pride in working with missionary zeal without caring for rewards. He was a perfect example of the Aligarhian spirit,” the General remarked. 

“It were the officers like Engr Zakir Ali Khan Khan and Engr Z A Nizami, educated and trained at the Aligarh Muslim University, who laid strong foundations for the country. It was their vision and hard work which created the infrastructure in the city of Karachi. After their retirement service they immortalized themselves by giving us the Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET). Today we miss people like them,” he complimented. 

“They spread the mission of the great Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in letter and spirit. Let us remember that Sir Syed and most of his colleagues had also worked proactively after having retired from service,” the former Governor of Sindh stated.

Professor Abu Sufiyan Islahi of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), who was the chief guest of the evening, recalled the meritorious services of the late Engr Zakir Ali Khan in furthering the mission of the legendary Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. 

“The contributions of both Zakir Ali Khan as well as Z A Nizami in keeping the Aligarhian spirit alive deserves recognition beyond words. These two gentleman were chiefly responsible for having created the SSUET which is a priceless gift for the people of Pakistan,” he noted. 

“On personal front, it has been a privilege as well as an honour to have done the book ‘Zakir-e-Sir Syed’ which is spread over 120 pages. This is the story of a man who had dedicated his life for furthering the agenda of the AMU and its founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan,” the visiting Professor added. 

The vote of thanks was presented precisely by Erum Khan in which she briefly touched about the passion and the obsession of his father-in-law (Engr Zakir Ali Khan) towards Aligarh. In the end the copies of the book ‘Zakir-e-Sir Syed’ were presented to the dignitaries at the stage. The launching ceremony was followed by a sumptuous dinner.