Thursday, December 31, 2020

Dadu-Kotri rail infrastructure inspected

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The annual DS Special inspection of the 181-kilometere long single line ML-II track from Dadu to Kotri was carried out by the divisional officers of the Karachi division led by their Divisional Superintendent Arshad Salam Khattak. 

The Pakistan Railways operates 213Up/214Down Moen-jo-Daro Express destined between Kotri and Rohri on this line. 

The track and its right-of-way area were examined from the glass window, in the back, of the last coach during the running train as the process called as window trailing. The entire infrastructure entailing manned as well as unmanned level crossings, bridges, level between rails, conditions of stations and available record at all the stations en route were inspected physically by the visiting officers.

The anomalies that had been pointed out four months ago on August 24 during the inspection conducted by Federal Government Inspector of Railways FGIR had been rectified by the concerned officials and were appreciated by the Divisional Superintendent. 

The paraphernalia available to the level crossings' staff was checked and its operational understanding was judged during the inspection.  

Running test of deputed staff was also conducted that determined their physical ability to cope with any untoward situation. 

As per customary practice, cash prizes were also awarded to the staff members for their sound knowledge and display of masterful skills.

Monday, December 28, 2020

AKU nurses, midwives steal limelight

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Eight Pakistani nurses and midwives have been honoured in the global 2020 100 Outstanding Women Nurses and Midwives. 

All eight nurses and midwives from Pakistan happen to be faculty or alumni at the Aga Khan University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery (SONAM). 

One hundred nurses and midwives from 43 countries have been recognized for their contribution to raising healthcare standards across the globe, especially during these difficult times. These outstanding leaders have been acknowledged by Women in Global Health (WGH), which collaborated with the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Population Fund, Nursing Now, International Council of Nurses and International Confederation of Midwives on the list. 

The recognition marked the end of the WHO’s yearlong Year of the Nurse and the Midwife 2020 campaign, which recognizes the vital role of nurses and midwives in providing health services and in helping achieve targets under the global sustainable development goals. 

The School’s Dean Dr Rozina Karmaliani has been honoured under the Board and Management category in recognition of her efforts to spearhead improvements in adolescent health, strengthen research capacities and integrate research into education and practice.

Faculty members Yasmin Parpio and Samina Vertejee have been appreciated under the Community Hero category for their services in community health nursing, while Saima Sachwani is recognised for her contributions in developing impactful nursing curriculum under the Human Capital Development category. 

Nurse-midwife Marina Baig has also been lauded for leveraging mobile health technology to improve maternal health outcomes under the Innovation, Science & Health category. 

Three SONAM alumni have also been recognised under the Community Hero category which include Dr Shela Hirani for her efforts to promote, protect and support breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic, Neelam Punjani for her work in improving access to sexual and reproductive health rights and Sadaf Saleem for her contributions to geriatric nursing. 

“It is an honour to be acknowledged by the international public health and nursing fraternity. This year has been particularly challenging for healthcare providers, all of whom have showed incredible commitment in their respective roles in responding to the COVID-19 crisis,” Dean Karmaliani remarked. 

“It’s encouraging to see that our government and healthcare stakeholders in Pakistan were coming together and deliberating on investing in nursing and midwifery education, practice and research. There is no better time than now to acknowledge the critical role of nurses in creating resilient healthcare systems,” she added.

The nominated women represent several hundreds of thousands of nurses and midwives globally who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic and have shown courage and compassion while working in a variety of clinical and community settings and while training and building the skills of healthcare professionals. 

By acknowledging these nursing and midwifery leaders, WGH renews its call to WHO member nations to establish and support strategic leadership positions for nurses and midwives in health facilities, involve them in key decisions, support diversity in recruitment strategies, reduce the gender pay gap and ensure a safe work environment.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Mayar-e-Zindagi launched at KPC

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Literary Committee of the Karachi Press Club, one of the iconic institutions of the country, organized the launching ceremony of Asma Hassan’s recently published book ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ at its own purpose-built auditorium on December 24.

Shariq Vohra, President, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), was the chief guest in the book launch ceremony which was presided over by Jahangir Moghul, Charter President, Rotary Club of Karachi Darakhshan (RCKD). Author Asma Hassan joined the proceedings from Lahore via video link. 

The speakers at the ceremony included Iqbal Saleh Muhammad, Managing Director, Paramount, Books, Khawaja Naveed Ahmed, a former judge of the Sindh High Court, Nasreen Masood, a veteran social worker, Imtiaz Khan Faran, President, KPC and A H Khanzada, Secretary, Literacy Committee, KPC. The ceremony began with the recitation of Holy Quran by Zia-ur-Rahman. 

Iqbal Saleh Muhammad, the first speaker of the evening, highlighted the various aspects of the book and he described it as a worthy publication which could be expected to do well in the market despite the challenging ground realities. 

Being a doyen of publishing and bookselling in Pakistan, he didn’t mince words in sharing that putting together a book was an arduous task and only those having gone through this exercise knew it exactly how tough it was to produce a high quality book like Mayar-e-Zindagi. 

Khawaja Naveed Ahmed, an eminent lawyer, lived upto his reputation of entertaining the audience as he shared his observations about the book in his typically lighter vein. 

He appreciated the contents of the book and he was particularly pleased with the ability of the author to have written crisp and precise chapters, conveying big messages within matter of a few pages which was commendable as the majority of people, in his opinion, were not keen on reading voluminous publications. 

Nasreen Masood, an enthusiastic social worker, who has also penned the foreword to the book, confessed to have become a great fan of the writing of Asma Hassan. 

“She writers really well and I get touched by his style. She has chosen wonderful topics and she has done justice with them. It’s really great to find her maiden book having created waves and I feel equally proud to have contributed its foreword,” she observed. 

Jahangir Moghul, one of the most prominent social personalities of the country, was equally appreciative of the work of Asma Hassan and he expected its subsequent editions in future. 

“The subjects covered in the book are of immense interest to the readers in general. I will urge Asma Hassan to continue writing such brilliant articles and also consider the possibilities of bringing out new editions with fresh articles on a yearly basis,” he advised. 

Chief guest Shariq Vohra showered author Amra Hassan with praise for having made a sensational debut with Mayar-e-Zindagi, a book he had ordered for immediately after the book was put on sale. 

“Although I am not getting much time these days for fuelling my passion for reading, due to my preoccupations as the KCCI President, Mayar-e-Zindagi is one of the few books I have been able to read recently. Hats off to the team having produced and published such a wonderful book,” he complimented. 

The KPC President, Imtiaz Khan Faran, and the KPC Literary Committee Secretary, A H Khanzada, were also loud and clear in praising Mayar-e-Zindagi for its content and production. 

Author Asma Hassan’s five-minute speech, via video link, was listened with pin drop silence as she mesmerized the audience with her thoughts and selection of words. 

She narrated the story of her dream coming true with the publication and launching of Mayar-e-Zindagi in the most challenging of circumstances with COVID-19 having wreaked havoc. 

Emerging artist Beenish Khan was recognized and praised for her painting published on the title of Mayar-e-Zindagi with Khawaja Naveed Ahmed in particular commending her effort. In was in the fitness of things that he presented her the shield of appreciation on the occasion.

Shields were also presented to the dignitaries and the officials of KPC and RCKD besides the representatives of Jumbo Publishing, who played the pivotal role in publishing the book.

Frontline COVID-19 workers among specialists graduating from AKU

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
A total of 113 residents and fellows, many of whom have played a key role in treating COVID-19 patients during the pandemic, graduated at Aga Khan University’s 25th Postgraduate Medical Education, PGME, ceremony held recently. 

Certificates were awarded to 92 residents and 21 fellows in areas relevant to the treatment of COVID-19 such as anaesthesiology and intensive care, emergency medicine, pulmonary medicine, paediatric infectious diseases and adult infectious diseases.

“This year’s batch of residents and fellows have been on the frontline during a time of unprecedented need. They have honed their skills and advanced their knowledge in the middle of a crisis and now have the experience to treat a range of complex diseases and disorders,” Dr Rizwan Khan, associate dean of PGME at AKU, remarked.

Around the world and in Pakistan, scores of physicians-in-training such as interns, residents and fellows have lost their lives while caring for and treating sick COVID-19 patients. 

“Putting safety at the core of patient care, we learnt how new communicable diseases like COVID-19 are managed and what it is like to be at the forefront as a team,” Dr Waleed Bin Ghaffar, a graduating resident in anaesthesiology and intensive care, added. 

The graduates were also part of various research studies and clinical trials at the University to generate new knowledge to improve the management of COVID-19 as well as other diseases. The hybrid graduation ceremony saw all graduates attend in person, while observing physical distancing, as their relatives attended the event virtually. 

Ten Best Residents awards were given at the ceremony while the Excellence in Research award was also presented to a resident and fellow. Since its inception in 1985, AKU’s PGME programme has graduated 3,574 specialist doctors who have helped raise healthcare standards in Pakistan and abroad. 

Over 60 percent of AKU PGME graduates are working in Pakistan and more than a third of clinical faculty at AKU are graduates of its own PGME programme. All of AKU’s 34 residency programmes are recognised by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Pakistan. The University also offers advanced training through 35 fellowship programmes to senior physicians.

BMP confident for victory in FPCCI elections as two candidates win unopposed

By Syed Sajid Aziz
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Mian Nasir Hayatt Maggo, the presidential candidate of the Businessmen Panel in the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), for the upcoming annual elections of 2021, has expressed his full confidence over group's victory as they have received overwhelming support from chambers and other trade bodies from all over the country. 

Prior to his statement, the group had already won two seats of vice presidents, Farzana Ali Ahmed from Women’s Chamber and Nasir Khan representing Balochistan Chamber. Both the candidates won the election unopposed. 

The rival panel United Business Group (UBG) was jolted earlier when its four stalwarts including its spokesman and veteran business leader Gulzar Firoz and its presidential candidate Khalid Tawab’s son Ibrahim Tawab were declared illegal and barred from elections. They cannot vote in the elections. 

The BMP is being led by Mian Anjum Nisar, who is also FPCCI President for 2020. The other contestant group is the United Businessmen Group (UBG) led by the veteran S M Muneer. The elections are scheduled to be held on on December 30. 

Nasir Hayat Maggo, highlighting BMP's performance in the year 2020, remarked that the FPCCI President, Mian Anjum Nisar, along with his team of officer bearers, and other leaders of his group had been playing their best possible role from the platform of this apex trade body of the country for the resolution of the issues facing trade and industry , and for getting maximum incentives and facilities for them to boost industrial growth and exports. 

Despite difficult situation emerging after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the industry sustained and the exports witnessed significant increase in 2020. This could be possible due to continued efforts and pursuance by BMP leadership that the government came up with the bailout financial packages for the industry and businesses to absorb the shocks of COVID-19. 

Besides these packages, he added, the BMP struggled to get the power tariff for the industry rationalized, the policy rate (interest) reduced by five percent. Huge financial package for the housing and construction sector was prominent among the government relief lobbied for by BMP leadership, he said. 

He narrated that the BMP leadership had also been very actively engaged with the federal and provincial governments in formulation of the policies on trade and industry including the annual budgets making. 

Nasir Hayatt Maggo is a well-experienced business leader rendering meritorious services for the promotion of trade and industries. 

He resolved that, after his election as president FPCCI, he would make the best and the most effective use of the institution for promoting trade and industry, and local and foreign investment. 

Strongly believing in team work and co-existence, he would ensure maximum participation of the business leaders representing different chambers and associations of the country besides FPCCI in the struggle for economic prosperity and development of the country, along with welfare of the business community.

Railways celebrate Christmas at Karachi

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Karachi Division of the Pakistan Railways celebrated Christmas with its Christian employees and marked the occasion with a cake cutting ceremony organized in the office of Divisional Superintendent. 

The arrangements for celebrations were made on the special directives of the Railways Minister, Azam Khan Swati. 

The DS Karachi, Arshad Salam Khattak, and Bishop Naveed Asif jointly cut the Christmas cake in the presence of Christian employees of the office including divisional officers to give a demonstration of inter-faith harmony. 

The DS Karachi felicitated the Christian community on the occasion of Christmas while the employees thanked him for arranging the ceremony and presented him with bouquet and cake.

Railways retrieve petrol pump's land in post-midnight operation

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
In a major land-retrieval operation, the Pakistan Railways got back the possession of a petrol pump's land in Karachi as the licensee had been declared defaulter for a long time. 

The operation was carried out, after midnight, by the Pakistan Railways police on the orders of the Divisional Superintendent, Karachi, Arshad Salam Khattak, near Drigh Road (Shahrah-e-Faisal), the city's main transport artery. 

The licensee had been a defaulter of millions of rupees and the Railways authorities had repeatedly communicated him for clearance of liabilities or else face department's action. The retrieved petrol pump land was believed to be worth millions of rupees owing to its prime location.

Upon possession of land, the Railways authorities have deputed its police and fenced the entry and exit points. 

The Railway's anti-encroachment and land retrieval operations have been intensified as this was the second major successful operation inside three days.

The initiatives of the Railways authorities to retrieve its lands from the defaulters have been hailed and it's being hoped that they will withstand all pressures from the illegal occupants to continue performing this gigantic task.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Karachi-Mirpurkhas Mehran Express resumed

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Pakistan Railways, in view of the public demand, has resumed the operations of the Karachi-Hyderabad-Mirpurkhas Mehran Express from City Railway station Karachi on December 20. 

Sabir Qaimkhani, a federal lawmaker from NA-226 Hyderabad-II, saw off the passengers of this much-desired public facility. 

During the annual DS Special inspection of Hyderabad-Mirpurkhas section two months ago on October 20, the local citizens had persuaded the Divisional Superintendent Karachi, Arshad Khattak at every station on Hyderabad-Mirpurkhas section requesting him for early resumption of train service as road transport fares had drastically soared in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The 149 Up/150 Dn Mehran Express will have a four-and-half hour total journey period for a distance of approximately 250 kilometers between Karachi City and Mirpurkhas, and vice versa, having eight enroute stoppages at Cantonment station, Drigh Road, Landhi, Jung Shahi, Kotri, Hyderabad, Tando Jam and Tando Allahyar. 

The train comprises nine economy class coaches and a brake van having a cumulative passenger carrying capacity of 734 people. 

The 149 Up departs at 3:55 pm from Karachi City station whereas 150 Down departs at 5 am in the morning from Mirpurkhas.

The resumption of Mehran Express should bring immediate relief to the area people at a time when other modes of transportation are not easily availing these days due to the pandemic related issues.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Rehabilitation of China Creek Bridge in full swing

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi

(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The rehabilitation work of China Creek Bridge, located near Karachi Port Trust (KPT) connecting City Station with the port directly, is in full swing these days. 

The direct and the easiest connectivity between the two places is a major facility towards achieving a smooth and sustained platform for freight operations of the Pakistan Railways.
The Divisional Superintendent Railways, Karachi, Arshad Salam Khattak visited the bridge on December 19 and conducted a briefing about the ongoing of repair and rehabilitation work. 

He pointed out that the Railways' freight service could be equated directly with the country's economy. 

"An efficient freight service is an indication of a nation's progressive Railways but its prosperity also" he remarked while interacting with the officers and staff present at site. 

He directed that the bridge be made serviceable at the earliest so that it could be used in full capacity in the freight operation.

Friday, December 4, 2020

‘How to be an Amazing Teacher’ unveils secrets of success

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Caroline Bentley-Davies, an inspector of schools, an adviser and a consultant, attained fame and recognition in the United Kingdom and beyond by having authored ‘How to be an Amazing Teacher’ which explains tips, techniques and tactics for teachers to stand out above the rest and transform into an amazing teacher. 

Paramount Books has done a great service for the people of Pakistan to have the book translated into the national language and its Urdu version ‘Behtereen Ustad Kaisay Banain’ will be reaching out teachers in every nook and corner of the country. 

For many of us during our school experience there was one amazing teacher or two who changed our outlook on life and helped us succeed and whose life lessons we will never forget. What was it that made them such an outstanding teacher and what is it that I can do as a new teacher to replicate this quality? 

Here is an opportunity for those engaged in the noble profession of teaching in Pakistan to learn from an expert, in their own language, to learn on how to improve teaching skills; how to get classroom's behavior to work to your benefit; how to motivate pupils who don't seem to want to learn, and much more. 

These are understood to be the challenges often encountered about by the newly qualified as well as the experienced teachers. Now they have access to the solutions and tips to improve their performance for the larger national interest. 

‘Behtereen Ustad Kaisay Banain’ unveils secrets of body language, presence and classroom charisma. Things like how to unlock the hidden talents of pupils and develop their motivation and engagement through a wealth of innovative teaching techniques. 

The tools amazing teachers have mastered to engage disaffected pupils and make the classroom a vibrant and engaging place are also discussed. Practical advice, real life scenarios and expert opinion have been very nicely blended in this book which has the potential to make any teaching career more rewarding and successful. 

“This book is practical, uplifting and immensely reassuring. It reminds us that while brilliant teachers are awe-inspiring to watch, their skills are essentially learned. This book provides a canny mix of advice and opportunities for reflection on the journey towards being an outstanding teacher,” one of the seasoned teachers complimented after reading the book.

“The information in this book jumps off the page from the very beginning, grabs you and never let go. Every chapter is a gem. Each has excitement, ideal, and tools, and what's more, the book 'covers the waterfront' of everything that is key without ever getting bogged down. Read it as soon as you can if you want to appreciate and improve your teaching for maximum benefit,” another veteran professor commented.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Specific inspection of Jungshahi

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Divisional Superintendent of the Pakistan Railways, Karachi, Arshad Islam Khattak, accompanied by other officers, carried out station-specific inspection of the Jungshahi yard. 

The inspection was primarily aimed at reviewing the working of railways' infrastructure in the yard and measuring the preparedness of the deputed staff. 

The DS-led team inspected office record, track condition, viability of traffic level crossing, stability of a bridge, functioning of electrical and mechanical equipment installed with the station limits and alertness of deputed staff for coping with any untoward incident. 

The area people also met Arshad Khattak and requested for stoppage of more trains at passenger trains at Jungshahi. On the occasion they presented the DS with traditional Ajrak and Sindhi topi to mark the Sindh Cultural Day. 

The Divisional Superintendent stated that such station-specific inspections throughout Karachi Division would be made a regular feature to ensure enhanced efficiency.

AKU to launch clinical trial of low-cost ventilators

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Aga Khan University will launch a clinical trial of a portable, low-cost ventilator that aims to make lifesaving treatment such as assisted breathing available to patients before they reach the hospital. 

Ventilators are currently only available in hospitals even though most patients with critical breathing problems need earlier access to breathing assistance. 

The AKU’s briefcase-sized, battery-operated ventilator is designed to be used in an ambulance to reduce existing delays in receiving care.

“Every moment is vital when you’re struggling to breathe. Most people with severe respiratory issues see their health deteriorate on their way to the hospital and they typically need more breathing assistance than a simple oxygen cylinder can provide,” Saleem Sayani, Director of the AKU’s Technology Innovation Support Centre and Digital Health Resource Centre, remarked. 

Pakistan also has a high burden of respiratory diseases with pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, being two of the top ten leading causes of death, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. People with severe forms of pneumonia, COPD and COVID-19 are among those who require urgent access to ventilation. 

One third of all patients in low and middle income countries require care such as assisted ventilation before reaching the hospital, according to the World Health Organization. Besides those with breathing problems, individuals suffering from head injuries, drug overdoses and heart conditions can also benefit from ventilators in ambulances. 

“Too many precious lives are lost due to a lack of timely and effective ventilation. This innovation aims to bridge the gap in care during transport to the hospital, which is often the period of highest risk for critically ill patients,” Dr Junaid Razzak, Director of AKU’s Center of Excellence for Trauma and Emergencies, stated. 

Early tests show that the prototype ventilator can provide a regular supply of oxygen that can stabilize the health of a high-fidelity patient mannequin mimicking the symptoms of a patient with respiratory issues. 

Clinical trials aim to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the device among patients with chronic breathing problems in ambulances and emergency rooms. The prototype device also has a mobile app that allows doctors at the hospital to manage the ventilator’s settings while the patient is in the ambulance to ensure that s/he reaches the hospital in a stable condition. 

Hospital staff can also access real-time data about the patient’s health through the app enabling them to take appropriate actions before his or her arrival at the emergency room. All the data available on the app in the ambulance is visible to specialists in the hospital. This will enable more efficient triage, diagnosis and treatment for critically ill patients. 

The ventilator’s app also contains an artificial intelligence component that evaluates the patient’s data, assesses the risk to a health and provides suggestions on the next steps to be taken by the ambulance paramedic. 

“The use of low-cost mobile ventilators in ambulances coupled with remote monitoring from the hospital through mobile technologies has the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes and increase chances of survival, particularly in low-resource countries like Pakistan,” Dr Asad Latif, chair of the department of anaesthesiology at AKU’s Medical College, added. 

The objectives of the clinical trial are in line with global efforts under the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 to reduce premature mortality from communicable diseases such as pneumonia and non-communicable diseases such as asthma and COPD. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Happy Birthday Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari!

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, one of the pioneers in the field of Library & Information Science in Pakistan, is celebrating his 85th birthday on December 2. 

The Founder President of the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB), established in 1966, and the founding Chief Editor of Pakistan Library & Information Science Journal (PLISJ), published quarterly since 1968, Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari has been acclaimed as one of the icons of the profession. 

He also happened to be an ex-chairperson of Department of Library Information Science at the University of Karachi. 

Unlike the last many years when you used to visit his home country Pakistan during winters and his birthday was celebrated with fanfare by his well-wishers in Karachi, he is currently spending quality time with his family in the United States. 

His last public appearance in Pakistan, before departing to the US on November 1, was his participation at the Felicitation Ceremony of Asma Hassan’s Mayar-e-Zindagi, hosted by the LPB on October 28. 

The management of Jumbo Publishing, Jumbo Infomedia and Pakistan News & Features Services has extended greetings to the legendary scholar on his birthday, wishing him long life with immaculate health.