Sunday, February 19, 2017

Marvi Memon condoles with Sehwan blast victims’ families

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The State Minister and Chairperson, Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Marvi Memon visited the village of Baqa Dahiri in Sindh’s district of Shahdadpur where she offered condolence with the heirs of Siddique Dahiri and Raja Khaskheli who lost their lives in Sehwan suicide blast earlier in the week.

On behalf of the Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, Marvi Memon expressed sympathies with bereaved family members and offered Fateha for the departed souls. 

Talking to the media corps outside the residence of deceased Raja Khaskheli, the State Minister strongly condemned the suicide blast at the shrine of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalanad and termed it a cowardly act of those who were playing with the lives of innocent people. 

She remarked that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been engaged in combating terrorism with iron hand and soon the peace would be prevailed in all over the country.

Meanwhile, a condolence reference for the martyrs of Hazrat Sakhi Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Sehwan Sharif was held at Shah Abdul Latif University (SALU), Khairpur. 

According to a media handout, a large number of teachers, officers, employees and students attended the reference. 

The participants of the reference demanded of the government to take strict security measures to secure the devotees at all the Shrines, Mosques, Imam Bargahs and others prominent places throughout the county to avert any untoward incident. 

Later, the participants also prayed for the security, integrity and peace of the country. They condemned the wave of recent terror attacks countrywide.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

SSUET secure 2nd position in Sports Gala

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) secured second position in the All Karachi Inter-Universities Sports Gala, organized by the Pakistan Marine Academy (PMA). 

They won three of the five events in which they participated. The SSUET won gold medals in hockey, football and volleyball but crumbled in the semifinals of cricket and basketball tournaments. 

The Sports Gala was held at the spacious Pakistan Marine Academy's complex at Hawkesbay and was participated by Karachi's 18 universities. 

The universities took part in eight male and six female competitions with the SSUET having taken part in five events and winning gold in three of them.

In the hockey final, SSUET easily trounced PNEC 3-1 with Nadeem Akram, Taha Raza and Anis Siddiqi scoring the goals for the winning side. 

In volleyball, none of the universities could withstand SSUET who comfortably defeated DUHS in the final. 

 In football, SSUET won the title by overpowering AKU in the sudden death session. Both the teams were locked at 1-1 when final whistle was blown. They drew level 3-3 in the penalty shootout as well but SSUET emerged victorious in the sudden death session. 

The SSUET's Chancellor Jawaid Anwar has congratulated the university's teams in winning overall second position in the sports gala.  

Felicitations were also extended by Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawed H Rizvi, Registrar, Syed Sarfraz Ali, Convenor AIT Anwar Ali, Director Sports, Mubbashir Mukhtar besides Convenor Sports, Waqas Bukhari, Arshad Khan, General Secretary AMUOBA and others.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Children, doctors and architects pitch ideas for a new children’s hospital at unique hackathon

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)


Imagine a hospital designed by a child, for a child. Instead of white walls, there are imaginative paintings and vibrant images all around the hospital. Uninspiring waiting areas are replaced with kids’ entertainment zones where children play and learn, and the hospital’s atmosphere is specially designed to make children feel at home.

That’s what a children’s hospital of the future looks like; according to children, doctors, nurses, engineers, entrepreneurs, architects and other professionals who came together to design a kids’ healthcare centre of the future at the first-ever paediatric hackathon hosted by Aga Khan University (AKU), Hack Paeds 2017. 

The three-day event saw over 110 participants of all ages and a variety of disciplines collaborate to develop innovative proposals that could be introduced at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH)’s planned 12-storey Children’s Hospital. 

The participants at the hackathon, spread over three days, were assisted by 12 mentors with backgrounds as diverse as entrepreneurship, architecture and design, business, and paediatric medicine.

Divided into 16 teams, hackers developed a variety of ideas aimed at improving the hospital experience for children who are often anxious and uncomfortable. Some teams worked to adapt medical instruments like stethoscopes so that it would be easier to measure a sick child’s heartbeat. 

Others sought to create innovative designs for brightly coloured ‘medical flaps’ that would help doctors insert a cannula without alarming a child. Away from devices, other teams developed systems to improve child protection services for vulnerable kids and ways to help children keep up with schoolwork while admitted to hospital. Many hackers also worked on innovative designs for hospital waiting areas that would help young patients feel comfortable while in a new environment. 

“The world of a child is different from that of an adult. Playfulness is in their nature and their spirit isn’t burdened by responsibility. Children’s hospitals will always need to have the best facilities for healthcare but the atmosphere of a hospital should be centered on the needs and personality of a child so that they are open while speaking to doctors. The purpose of this multidisciplinary hackathon is to pool together different types of expertise to create innovative proposals for a state-of-the-art, unique, cost-effective hospital that will feel familiar and comfortable to a child,” Dr Salman Kirmani, chair of the Department of Paediatrics at Aga Khan University, remarked. 

Judges at the event scored each team’s solution on the basis of healthcare impact, innovation, business model, children-centricity and presentation skills. 

The following teams won the top prizes at the hackathon:

1. Stealth: a wearable belt that enables computer analysis of heart conditions. The device aims to reduce errors in the manual diagnosis of heart disease. 

2. Genesis: a system using virtual reality technology to entertain children admitted to hospital. 

3. Onco-Buzz: an application that provides information to families whose child is suffering from cancer to help them maintain the continuity of treatment. 

Speaking about the need for novel thinking in children’s healthcare, AKUH CEO Hans Kedzierski, said: “Creating a healing atmosphere in a hospital for children means that parents no longer have to keep their child occupied and distracted as they wait for the unknown procedures that might create anxiety. Children will feel comfortable in an environment that has been built just for them and this means that the recovery process will be less stressful for the parents too. 

“Hackathons are one of the most vibrant ways to create innovative solutions. The 16 teams had just two days to tackle real-world paediatric issues while ensuring that their solution would be received well by young patients. As a judge we all found it very difficult to decide the most innovative solution. However, Team Stealth’s pitch will make diagnosis for heart disease available to many more people thereby widening access to care. That’s why we choose team Stealth for the top prize. I’d like to congratulate all the teams on their hard work. It is great to see young people working hard to create a futuristic children’s hospital for Pakistan.” 

Dr Asad Mian, Associate Professor at AKU and one of the lead organisers of the event, said: “Innovation within a society comes from the bottom up – it is the work of individuals who, when faced with constraints, take it upon themselves to find solutions. This is particularly relevant for paediatrics as our children deserve to be the foremost recipients of resourceful and innovative healthcare. I’ve seen some great ideas at the hackathon that are sorely needed. The participants have made great progress in just a few days and I look forward to seeing how they build upon these ideas.”
A host of international speakers and local experts delivered inspirational speeches during the event to help guide the teams at the Hackathon. 

The speakers included David Arthur, dean of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at AKU; Kate Donovan, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital; Christopher Lee, co-founder of US-based drug delivery technology firm Recon Thereapeutics and Ayesha Khalid, a surgeon and one of the leading figures involved in MIT’s Hacking Medicine initiative. 

Supported by the Department of Paediatrics, AKU, and the Children’s Hospital service line at AKUH, the event was organised by the Critical Creative Innovative Thinking forum which is an educational, training and research programme seeking to foster creativity and innovation in biomedicine and healthcare.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sindh supports scaling up of Nigraan project

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Nigraan, an innovative research and capacity building project, has been extended to a second district in rural Sindh, Mirpurkhas, under the project name, Nigraan Plus. The Nigraan Plus project was formally launched by the Sindh health secretary and AKU’s Community Health Sciences (CHS) Department at an event.

The initial phase of the Nigraan project in Badin has helped Lady Health Workers and Lady Health Supervisors to manage potentially fatal diseases in children such as pneumonia and diarrhea, which lead to over 140,000 child deaths a year equating to 46 per cent of all child deaths in Pakistan before the age of five. 

Since the majority of deaths from these two diseases occur in the home, Nigraan focused on boosting the knowledge, skills and performance of Lady Health Supervisors (LHSs), who supervise the performance of Lady Health Workers (LHWs), and LHWs who provide relevant home-based health services to communities. 

Commenting on the programme’s extension to Mirpurkhas, Sindh Health Secretary, Dr Fazlullah Pechuho said: “The basic unit of the health system are the caregivers, the LHSs and LHWs. If we empower them we can achieve great results. Nigraan has already provided high quality training in Badin and AKU’s research will help us replicate these results across the province. Good research leads to good policy formulation and I look forward on continued cooperation with AKU’s CHS team through a formal agreement.” 

Nigraan introduced LHSs to supportive management practices that resulted in both the LHWs and the LHSs providing more adequate care during visits to households. In Badin, LHSs who were trained in enhanced supervisory skills through the project, noted a doubling in their supervision skill scores, a remarkable improvement on their ability to provide quality support to LHWs in the field. 

The ability of LHSs, trained under Nigraan, to correctly diagnose and treat diarrhea and pneumonia also improved markedly. Moreover, LHWs who were supervised by the Nigraan-trained LHSs, showed improvement in their ability to correctly manage diarrhea and pneumonia in children under five compared to those outside the programme. 

Speaking about the impact of Nigraan, Assistant District Coordinator for Family Planning and Primary Healthcare, Badin, Taskeen Fatima said: “The trainings were practical and hospital-based which helped us improve our skills to identify cases of diarrhea and pneumonia and also boosted the ability of LHWs to diagnose cases at the community level. The tools developed by the project had a very positive effect on our skills and it was very memorable to see how LHWs appreciated the support being provided by their supervisors because of Nigraan.” 

In the next phase of the project, Nigraan Plus will introduce similar evidence-based, supportive supervision system practices in Mirpurkhas so that healthcare workers can correctly detect, diagnose, report and treat cases of pneumonia and diarrhea at an early stage, when care is the most effective. 

Nigraan Plus is also asking LHWs to use their mobile phones to record and relay data about children suffering from pneumonia and diarrhea to their supervisors. The LHSs use this information to maintain location-specific records on these diseases and to coordinate LHWs visits. 

The Provincial Coordinator for Family Planning and Primary Healthcare, Sindh, Dr Jai Ram Das said: “I’m pleased at how the AKU’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health and the CHS department are working together to upscale Nigraan. We look forward to working with AKU so that Nigraan’s training materials can be formally included in the training programme for lady health workers.” 

Highlighting the contribution of such programmes to the country’s health priorities, AKU’s Community Health Sciences Department Chair, Professor Fauziah Rabbani, who is working as the project’s principal investigator, added: 

“Building awareness about the importance of early administration of oral rehydration solutions (in the case of diarrhea) and the timely prescription of antibiotics (in the case of pneumonia) can save many lives.” 

“Nigraan Plus’s system of constant training, feedback and community visits not only builds the capacity of healthcare workers but also ensures that at-risk children get the attentive care they need at their doorstep. In the long term, such interventions will help Pakistan achieve targets under Sustainable Development Goal 3 on reducing childhood mortality.” 

The first phase of the Nigraan project was funded by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, an international collaboration hosted by the World Health Organization. Nigraan Plus is part of the Umeed-e-Nau project that is being implemented by AKU in collaboration with Pakistan’s provincial health ministries with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Present at the meeting were Mirpurkhas District Health Officer Dr Anwer Palari, Assistant Provincial Coordinator for Family Planning and Primary Healthcare Dr Pir Ghulam Hussain, and members of AKU’s Community Health Sciences faculty Dr Shagufta Perveen, Dr Kashif Sangrasi, Dr Aysha Zahidie and Dr Wafa Aftab.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Zakir Ali Khan remembered

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Glowing tributes were paid to Engr Mohammed Zakir Ali Khan, the late Vice-Chancellor of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) and the Secretary General of the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA) on the occasion of his fifth death anniversary held at the Aligarh Institute of Technology (AIT).

The anniversary was observed in a programme whose arrangements were made by Anwar Ali, Vice-President, AMUOBA, and Convener, AIT. 

On the occasion the services of late Zakir Ali Khan were recalled, particularly for the cause of education which led to the establishment of the iconic institutions like the AIT and the SSUET as well as for the promotion of activities of AMUOBA. 

A large number of students of the AIT, besides its Principal and academic staff and some Aligarhians including the General Secretary of the AMUOBA, Arshad Khan, attended the gathering and participated in Dua-e-Maghfirat for the departed soul of late Engr Zakir Ali Khan as well as for late Engr Z A Nizami, the founding Chancellor of the SSUET and late Brig (Rtd) Qamarussalam. 

Later the AIT Convener, Anwar Ali, chaired a meeting and said that observance of anniversaries of great reformer and educationist Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Engr Zakir Ali Khan and Engr Z A Nizami was meant to acknowledge the legendary personalities and derive inspiration from their accomplishments.

SSUET offers Graduate Diploma in Management Sciences

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, has announced admissions in one and half year Graduate Diploma in Management Sciences. 

According to the SSUET notification, it will be an evening programme which may lead to MBA in Human Resource Management; Islamic Banking and Finance; Banking and Finance; Marketing; Supply Chain Management; International Relation and Management; Media and Communication Management and Labour and Social Management. 

The qualification for admission has been described as 16 years of education from the HEC recognized institutions with minimum of second division or equivalent. 

The university is already offering Masters programme in Electronics, Telecom, Civil, Bio-Medical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science and offering PhD program in Computer and Electronic Engineering. 

The SSUET is planning to offer PhD programme in Bio-Medical as well. Starting with only two disciplines of Computer Engineering and Electronics at the time of its establishment, the SSUET is providing education in eleven different disciplines in its Morning program and at present about 5000 students are enrolled. 

The disciplines being offered at the SSUET are Computer, Electronics, Civil, Telecommunication, Bio-Medical, Electrical and Software Engineering besides Computer Science, Architecture, Information Technology and Bio-informatics.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

SSUET advancing in sports

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, had a very busy sports month in January with the start of new year 2017 with its teams participating in different sports events in a big way.

According to the SSUET Director Sports, Mubbashir Mukhtar, the their outfits participated in cricket, football and table tennis competitions during the month of January, having emerged successful as the champion in the Inter-University Cricket Tournament organized by Bahria University. 

SSUET had clinched the trophy by dethroning Indus University in the final. 

The SSUET had another achievement when it, for the first time, organized the HEC Football Tournament (Zone G) in a most successful manner. 

The tournament was participated by as many as 15 universities with the University of Karachi becoming the champion of Zone G alongwith IBA as the second qualifier. Both teams will now take part in the final round to be staged in Peshawar. 

Mubbashir Mukhtar disclosed that a schedule of sports events for February 2017 has already been prepared whereby a five-member team will take part in All Pakistan Judo Championship to be held in Tando Jam on February 3-4.

The university hockey team has making preparations to participate in HEC Hockey Tournament (Zone G) which is scheduled to start in Karachi from February 7. The tournament is expected to be participated by eight universities. 

In February, Director Sports SSUET informed that the university's boxing squad will be in action in the Final round of All Pakistan Boxing Championship which is being organized by SBB University Lyari. 

The final round will start by the end of the month. 

During the month, Pakistan Marine Academy (PMA) is organizing a Sports Gala from February 16 in which SSUET will participate in cricket, football, hockey, volleyball, badminton, athletics and tug of war events. 

The SSUET Director Sports stated that the preparations for participation in these events have started in a big way. 

He remarked that the SSUET could not have gone this far in its sports activities without the active support of its Chancellor Jawaid Anwar, Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawed H. Rizvi and Registrar Syed Sarfraz Ali who themselves are passionate about sports and desire to see the institution on the top in the sporting arena.