Pakistan struggles to cope with aftermath of WHO polio curbs

Pakistan struggles to cope with aftermath of WHO polio curbs

 

Pakistan struggles to cope with aftermath of WHO polio curbs

Pakistan struggles to cope with aftermath of WHO polio curbs

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is still reeling from the fallout of the travel restrictions imposed on it by the World Health Organisation to prevent the spread of polio virus.

The Ministry of National Health Services is expected to hold a meeting on Wednesday with representatives of provincial governments and other stakeholders to discuss the developments following the imposition of WHO restrictions.

The ministry is also likely to hold a press conference to inform the public about the steps being taken by it.

On Tuesday, four women legislators moved a call-attention notice in the National Assembly. Minister for National Health Services, Saira Afzal Tarar, informed the house that the government was developing a strategy to combat the virus. She said provincial health ministers were being taken on board and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was taking personal interest in the matter.

Mr Sharif had met the head of the WHO to discuss the issue, she added.

“Religious scholars are also getting involved with the campaign and the Imaam-i-Kaaba was expected to visit Pakistan soon to augment the government’s efforts,” she said.

Domestic travel

Also on Tuesday, Khawaja Salman Rafique, the Punjab chief minister’s adviser on health, told DawnNews that his government would seek to enforce a similar immunisation regime at entry and exit points of the province. Of all the provinces, Punjab is the one with the lowest reported instances of polio.

Mr Rafique said all children entering Punjab, either from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Sindh, would be required to present a proof of immunisation or take polio drops on the spot.

Airports

Passengers on various international flights appeared confused on Tuesday and most of them had no idea what the restrictions meant for travellers.

Islamabad airport manager Ayaz Jadoon told Dawn that they had not received any instructions yet about polio certification from the health department. The Civil Aviation Authority was operating a ‘health counter’ to facilitate passengers.

Immunisation counters are operative at Lahore and Karachi airports because of an existing requirement for passengers travelling to India.

Sources said similar counters would soon be operational at Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta airports.

Travellers

The added burden of acquiring an immunisation certificate has made life difficult for Pakistanis travelling abroad.

“It’s hard enough getting all the documents ready for our visa, now we have to provide proof of vaccination too. This is too much,” said Nida Ahmed, who is scheduled to fly to Kazakhstan for a conference next week. Ms Ahmed said she wasn’t sure what the new rules were. “So I’ll call up the embassy tomorrow and find out whether I need to get vaccinated again.”

Senior citizens were also greatly inconvenienced by the sudden implementation of the WHO travel restrictions. “My aged husband and I spent three hours on Tuesday in the ministry of national health services waiting for someone to administer polio drops to us,” a woman told Dawn.

“We were severely inconvenienced and the ministry was crowded with would-be travellers who had shown up to get shots at the last minute,” she said.

Travel agents also appeared to be unaware of the new rules. Mohammad Khurram, who runs a travel agency in Blue Area, said he had no idea what the restrictions would mean for those who had already bought their tickets. “When the government makes an announcement, we will be able to facilitate our customers accordingly,” he said.

Travel requirements

Meanwhile, the WHO sent a 16-page specimen ‘International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis’ to the ministry of national health services, which the international body recommended be used by travellers. The certificate requires minute details, such as the name, details of the brand name, manufacturers and batch number of the vaccine administered.

A WHO official told Dawn that the travel restrictions on Pakistan came into effect from May 5. “It is now mandatory for the government to ensure that each individual who wishes to travel abroad should have proof of vaccination,” he said.

The official said that although other countries were not under obligation to prevent travellers from Pakistan from entering, they had the prerogative to turn back passengers who failed to produce proof of immunisation.

Obtaining a certificate

Health officials advised those intending to travel abroad should visit public sector hospitals for vaccination and to obtain a bona fide certificate of immunisation.

Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram told Dawn that they had ordered nearly 4,000 immunisation certificates which would be available to anyone who came to the hospital for a polio shot.

“The certificates will be issued free of cost and from the time you walk into the hospital, the process should take a mere 15 minutes. The certificate will be valid for one year and if someone misplaces it, they can always get a duplicate issued from the same place,” he said.

“Counters are being established at airports, but they will be used only in case of an emergency. I would advise everyone to come to get their certificates from Pims.”

Safety concerns

Dr Akram debunked rumours that the polio vaccine was unsafe for adults, explaining that even though they might have been inoculated as children, it was perfectly safe for adults to consume a few more drops of the vaccine.

“The virus attacks the spinal cords of children less than five years of age. Although adults cannot contract the disease per se, they can still carry the virus,” he said.

Diplomatic response

Several embassies in Islamabad were unclear what the WHO’s travel restrictions meant for Pakistanis wishing to travel abroad.

“The US embassy in Islamabad is evaluating the WHO’s recommendations. At the moment the embassy has no requirements regarding proof of vaccination from visitors travelling to the United States,” said Meghan Gregonis, a spokesperson for the US embassy.

An official of the Indian High Commission told Dawn their their government already required travellers from Pakistan to produce proof of vaccination, without which they could not apply for an Indian visa.

Polio vaccination confusion hits travellers

Polio vaccination confusion hits travellers

KARACHI: The World Health Organisation’s recommendation on Monday to impose travel restrictions on Pakistan for its failure to curb the spread of the polio virus to other countries has left travellers confused, airlines and travel agents annoyed, with hospitals and pharmacy stores taking advantage of the situation.

When a person who is to travel early next week called up Fair Deals Travel agency to find out about the travel curb, she was told that they had no information but “to be on the safe side it is best to get the certificate”, said the travel agent.

“I read about it in the newspaper today. I am planning to call my travel agent. Since a lot of my friends are travelling in the summer I will ask them what they are going to do,” said Soofia Ishaque, creative consultant at an advertising agency who has an international trip lined up during the third week of May. “I suppose one will have to get it done. I mean I don’t want to be deported,” she added.

The confusion was evident even on social media such as Facebook where well-meaning friends of would-be travellers were coming up with suggestions on how to go about it and what hospitals should they go to for the polio vaccine drops. Some suggested going to Kausar medicos, a pharmacy store with branches in M.A. Jinnah Road and Gizri, that administers the drops while others specified reputable hospitals since they were issuing certificates also. Lack of information specifically on when the travel curbs would be implemented and certificate mechanism left the would-be travellers in a fog.

People also took to Twitter, another popular social media platform, where tweeters created hashtags such as #polio#travelrestrictions and #WHO to express their confusion and irritation. Hassan Choudary tweeted: “I think those travelling within the next week or so are good to go.” Shakir Hussain tweeted: “As if having a green passport wasn’t fun enough. #WHO #Pakistan.” Pakistan’s goodwill ambassador for polio eradication Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari also took to Twitter saying that the ban was expected. “Ban on travel should not be surprising. Multiple times organisations have stressed the consequences if Pakistan did not take #polio seriously.”

When Mohammad Awais of Kausar Medicos situated on M.A. Jinnah Road was asked if people were inquiring about the polio vaccine drops, he said: “At the moment we are not administering any drops since we normally don’t stock polio vaccines.

“But, yes, people have been calling us since morning to enquire about it. Now that we are getting so many queries in the next couple of days we will be selling the vaccines.”

Shafaat, who manages the information desk at South City Hospital, Clifton, also mentioned that his hospital had been getting numerous queries for the past one day and they were administering polio drops to the vacationers and were also issuing certificates of vaccination.

Some travel agents and airline representative, however, maintained that all this was media hype and that their clients were facing no problem in travelling to other countries. Hanif Dossani of Dossani Travels said that the travel market of Pakistan was huge that nobody would dare venture unsettling it by imposing such restrictions. “Between 400,000 and 500,00 people go for the summer vacation. Then there are 10 million overseas residents who travel frequently back and forth to Pakistan. Nobody is going to disturb this market. This is all just media hype. The channels are unnecessarily scaring people,” he said exasperatedly.

“Imagine, even educated people have been calling us up since morning to find out about this so-called travel restriction. Emirates, Gulf Air and Thai airways operate maximum number flights from Karachi and none of our clients who are travelling on these airlines have been turned away from immigration or from customs for lack of certification.”

Yasir Iqbal at the reservations department of Emirates said they were running four flights a day from Karachi to Dubai and none of their passengers faced any problem regarding polio vaccine certification. “Three of our flights have just departed when you called and nobody encountered any issue.”

As for Ms Ishaque, when a question was put to her that if she found out the travel curb as of now was most probably not mandatory what would be her line of action. She said: “If there is any chance of it becoming mandatory, I would still go for the vaccination and get the certificate. As it is international travel is a hassle especially with the immigration details I just want to be well-prepared in advance.”

WHO step preventive, not a travel restriction

WHO step preventive, not a travel restriction

WHO step preventive, not a travel restriction

WHO step preventive, not a travel restriction

LAHORE: Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Cell Aysha Raza Farooq takes the World Health Organization’s recent direction for Pakistanis traveling abroad as a ‘preventive measure’, rather than a ‘travel restriction’, meant to check export of the wild poliovirus to other countries.

“It is not something new. Pilgrims proceeding to (S Arabia) perform Hajj or Umra too are administered vaccines against various diseases at the airports”, she said.

Under the WHO direction, Pakistanis traveling abroad are now required to produce anti-polio vaccination certificate before boarding international flights.

She said the federal government has established special counters at all the international airports of the country in order to vaccinate the passengers against polio in accordance with the WHO recommendations.

“Pakistan has recently exported polio virus to some countries and the WHO has declared vaccination mandatory for every passenger leaving or entering Pakistan as a preventive measure”, Ms Aysha told Dawn.

Apparently, the federal government has no concrete strategy to meet the challenges emerging in the aftermath of the WHO direction as the focal person says, “The federal government has already introduced some innovative strategies to curtail the crippling disease.”

One of the new strategies evolved was the establishment of permanent transit points to get access to a large number of unvaccinated children living in Wazirastan region, Fata and some parts of the KPK, she said.

Holding mainly the militants responsible for recent surge in polio cases, she said they had been resisting the anti-polio vaccination drive for the last two years. Frequent armed attacks by the militants forced the polio staff to retreat from the high- risk areas.

“More than 250,000 children living in Wazirastan region are unvaccinated since then and this big chunk of population has been posing a serious threat to the healthy children”, Ms Aysha said, adding that the migration of the families along with unvaccinated children from the region to other parts of the country was a big hurdle in the way to contain the crippling disease. She said more than 90pc of the country had been polio free for the last couple of years.

“I believe no other country has been facing such an alarming situation with regard to resistance to the (anti-polio) campaign, including deadly attacks on polio workers, as we have in Pakistan”, she lamented. She termed the militant resistance a major obstacle in gaining access to a large number of unvaccinated children.

She said the federal government had raised the issue of attacks on polio workers in three Jirga meetings which were called exclusively to discuss the issue in tribal areas. Besides, she said, the meetings were also convened with the political agents to facilitate access to the targeted children in the areas like South and North Waziristan but with little success.

“Finally the federal government established 470 permanent transit points to target the families in the militancy-hit areas and vaccinated more than 3.5 million children against the polio against all odds,” Ms Aysha said.

She said the polio teams were also getting access to the unvaccinated children with the help of army. She rejected the allegations that she failed to meet the target set by the WHO in containing the polio disease, saying the polio programme in Pakistan has successfully restricted the virus to some pockets like Waziristan, KP and certain areas of Karachi.

150 hospitals, EDOs to issue vaccination certificate

150 hospitals, EDOs to issue vaccination certificate

150 hospitals, EDOs to issue vaccination certificate

150 hospitals, EDOs to issue vaccination certificate

LAHORE: The Punjab government has authorised 150 hospitals and the executive district officers (health) all over the province for the issuance of ‘international certificate of vaccination’ to those entering or leaving Pakistan.

The decision was taken after the World Health Organization curb imposed on Pakistan on the recommendations of the International Health Regulations (2005).

“We have authorised 150 officials, including medical superintendents of the tertiary care hospitals, district headquarters hospitals (DHQs) and the health EDOs in Punjab to issue certificates to the international travelers”, Health Director General Dr Zahid Pervez told Dawn.

He said in this regard the health department had issued a circular to the authorised officials with standard guidelines in accordance with the WHO recommendations.

He said the officials have been empowered to countersign the certificates which would be issued by the technicians deputed at the EPI centres already established at all the government health facilities in Punjab.

The staff deputed at the centres would administer anti-polio vaccine to the visitors and issue a signed certificate to them. The visitor will then get it countersigned by the MS or EDO from the authorised institute.

He said that he had written a letter to the WHO authorities informing them that the measure recommended by the organisation had been implemented in Punjab.

To a question, Dr Pervez said the international travelers would have to get the certificates four weeks before their departure as recommended by the WHO.

According to the WHO recommendations, ‘all residents and long-term visitors (i.e. 4 weeks) receive a dose of OPV or inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) between 4 weeks and 12 months prior to international travel’

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has directed officials concerned to vigorously pursue the anti-polio campaign in the province.

Presiding over a meeting to review the anti-polio campaign on Tuesday, he said in addition to administrative machinery, elected representative should also take an active part in the campaign.

The chief minister said effective arrangements should be made for vaccination against polio at the entry and exit points of the province and added that district coordination officers should take necessary measures for the success of the drive.

He said special attention be paid to eradication of polio from the temporary dwellings of gypsies. Expressing indignation over the detection of polio virus in environmental sample from Lahore, he said curbing its causes was also essential.

CM’s advisor on health Khwaja Salman Rafiq, parliamentary secretary Khwaja Imran Nazir, chief secretary, health secretary, Lahore commissioner, DCO and other concerned officers were present.

WHO puts shackles on Pakistan over polio

WHO puts shackles on Pakistan over polio

WHO puts shackles on Pakistan over polio

WHO puts shackles on Pakistan over polio

CHAMAN: A health worker gives polio vaccine drops to a child going to Afghanistan in this border town on Monday.—INP
CHAMAN: A health worker gives polio vaccine drops to a child going to Afghanistan in this border town on Monday.—INP
ISLAMABAD: The inevitable has finally happened. To prevent the possible spread of the polio virus from Pakistan to other countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) decided on Monday to impose strict travel restrictions on the country.

The decision was taken on the recommendation of the emergency committee of WHO, which had met on April 28 and suggested imposing travel restriction on Pakistan because of the continuous increase in polio cases in the country.

An official who works for WHO said that last year 60 per cent polio cases were a result of the international spread of the wild poliovirus. There was evidence that adult travellers contributed to this spread, he added.

Although polio only affects children, adults can be carriers of the disease.

The Minister of State for National Health Services, Saira Afzal Tarar, said that the government would try to address the concerns of the WHO so that by the next assessment (the decision will be reviewed in three months), the travel restrictions are reversed.

She said that the restrictions had been imposed on Syria and Cameroon along with Pakistan, while seven countries were warned to control the virus.

“I tried to avoid the ban by suggesting that the sanctions should be applicable on the Federally Administered Tribal Area, but the WHO said that it only dealt with international boundaries.”

Pakistan’s polio problem

The spread of polio in Pakistan has been a big worry for the past few years.

The virus strain of polio found in the country has affected as many as five countries over the past two years, becoming a serious threat to other countries.

Individual countries had already taken steps to stop the spread.

In February, India had banned the entry of travellers from Pakistan unless they had taken Oral Polio Vaccination (OPV) at least six week before the visit.

Saudi Arabia had back in 2000 made it mandatory that every Pakistani (children and adults) had taken OPV at the time of entry in that country.

Within Pakistan, each successive year has witnessed a higher number of children diagnosed with polio.

For example, in the first four months of the current year, 59 cases of polio have been recorded. The corresponding period last year witnessed only eight cases.

There is no single reason for the spread of the disease; the factors range from irrational fears to a limited campaign to militancy.

Many people appear to believe that the polio vaccine can cause fertility problems or that it is against Islam. The inefficacy of the drugs being used to vaccinate is also a problem as is the internal displacement due to which children have missed doses.

The problem was compounded by the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011 – Dr Shakil Afridi is seen to have helped traced Osama through a fake polio vaccination drive, which too prejudiced people against the campaign. And since the incident, the Taliban and other militants have also opposed the polio vaccination campaign more aggressively.

All these factors have ensured that the government efforts remain sketchy at best.

An official of the ministry of national health services said that despite all the efforts of the ministry to raise awareness about the Extended Programme of Immunisation (EPI) in December last year, 47,099 children were missed all over Pakistan because their parents refused the vaccination.

And the resistance by the militants can be gauged from the fact that 40 polio workers and security officials have been killed during polio campaigns.

WHO meeting

According to an official statement issued by WHO, the April meeting was attended by representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Israel, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria.

Calling the spread of the disease an ‘extraordinary event’ and a public health risk, the Emergency Committee of WHO said that “During 2014, international spread of wild poliovirus is being done from three of the 10 states that are currently infected. In central Asia, the virus is travelling from Pakistan to Afghanistan; in the Middle East it is travelling from Syria to Iraq and in central Africa it is travelling from Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea.”

It then recommended that “all residents and long-term visitors (less than four weeks) receive a dose of OPV or IPV between four weeks and 12 months prior to international travel”.

The meeting also pointed out that seven states – Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Somalia and Nigeria – were infected with Wild Poliovirus, but they were not exporting the virus.

The WHO approved recommendations on Monday and decided to reassess the situation after three months.

Logistics to be worked out

It is already evident that is going to be a logistical nightmare to ensure Pakistani travellers have taken the drops before proceeding outside the country.

The government will not only have to set up a system of administering the vaccination but also issue a certificate. In addition, it will have to ensure that this facility is available to all those who use different exit points across the country.

Not everyone is convinced that the government has the resources to do this.

Dr Waseem Khawaja, a health expert, said that it would not be easy for already overburdened government hospitals to issue polio vaccination certificates to travellers. “Additional human resources and counters will be required.”

He pointed out that a majority of travellers, especially those going to the Middle East, would have to be educated and informed about the issue.

The health minister explained that she had called a meeting on Wednesday to formulate a strategy to deal with the travel ban.

“Certificates of polio vaccination will be issued from every hospital. We will also try to make arrangements to give the vaccine to people at airports as they are proceeding abroad. I am trying my best to ensure that no fee is charged for these polio certificates,” she said.

According to the minister, the restrictions would be implemented as soon as possible but not on those who had already reserved their seats.

She said that the government would try to start polio vaccination in Fata.

Meanwhile, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said that Pakistan was in contact with WHO over the travel restriction.

Pakistan to set up polio vaccination points at airports

Pakistan to set up polio vaccination points at airports

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will set up mandatory polio immunisation points at its international airports in response to recommendations by the World Health Organisation, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
The WHO warned Monday that the crippling disease has re-emerged as a public health emergency, with the virus currently affecting 10 countries worldwide and endemic in three including Pakistan. “Special measures will include establishing mandatory immunisation counters on all airports, border crossings and seaports for all travellers,” said ministry spokesman Sajid Ali Shah. The WHO had called on Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria, seen as posing the greatest risk of exporting wild poliovirus, to ensure all residents and long-term visitors receive a polio vaccine between four weeks and a year before travelling abroad.
For urgent travel, at least one vaccine dose should be given before departure, according to the emergency committee, which also called for all travellers to be given certificates proving they have been immunised. Shah could not confirm whether long-term non-Pakistani residents would also be subject to immunisation under the new initiative. “That will be decided in a meeting scheduled soon,” he said. According to the WHO, Pakistan recorded 91 cases of polio last year, up from 58 in 2012. It has also recorded 59 of the world’s 74 cases this year.
The government has convened a meeting of all the provincial health ministers and representatives of health departments today (Wednesday) in Islamabad to devise a comprehensive strategy to address the issue. Minister for Health Services and National Regulations Saira Afzal Tarar told the National Assembly on Tuesday that the WHO travel restrictions are not Pakistan-specific, as two other countries, Cameron and Syria, have also given the same treatment. “The government has called a meeting of all the provincial health ministers and representatives of health departments tomorrow (Wednesday) to devise a strategy to address the issue,” she told the House.

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Islamabad organises advocacy walk

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Islamabad organises advocacy walk

ISLAMABAD: The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Islamabad organised an advocacy walk at Sports Complex Islamabad to observe Global Action Week on Education For All (EFA). In Pakistan, UNESCO Islamabad office has been observing GAW every year through holding advocacy events, disseminating information and public service messages through its network and collaboration with government counterparts, parliamentarians, civil society organisations, and academia and media fraternity.Speaking on the occasion, Dr Kozue Kay Nagata, Director UNESCO Islamabad welcomed the participants and extended her gratitude for joining in the walk. She said that Pakistan had made some progress on the education front which can be seen but yet exclusion of disable persons, especially children in education remains on the alarming challenge today. It is “unfortunate that children with disabilities” are less likely to complete primary schooling. For many, even access to education is simply denied. During this global action week we raise the flag for education is a universal human right, no one must be denied access because of disability.This is a UNESCO priority and we are acting across the world to break down barriers for people with disabilities to empower them as agents of change. We all have the shared vision and a common objective and we all stand united for this noble cause”, Dr Nagata added.Prof Rafique Tahir, Senior Joint Secretary CAAD while speaking on the occasion said the event was organized for raising awareness on EFA by bringing together a critical mass of government functionaries, local NGOs including organizations of disable persons, media, students, and local community activists for the cause of education. He said it was government mission to enroll all out of school children in Islamabad including disabled. Under the slogan “Equal Right, Equal Opportunity: Education and Disability” the 2014 Global Action Week this year was to highlight the profound challenges faced by the persons with disabilities in realizing their right to education.The Global Action Week (GAW) on EFA, an annual campaign organized by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) aimed to raise awareness on the importance of Education for All. UNESCO participates in the Global Action Week by mobilizing its networks and partners, by collecting and sharing policies and practices and by organizing activities around the world, through its Field Offices. About 1000 students of the Islamabad College for Girls and Boys together with a large number of persons with disabilities and representatives of the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD), UNESCO, Civil Society and media participated in the walk. The participants of the walk gathered at sports complex holding banners and play cards with display of messages related to the campaign. The walk started from Roshan Khan Complex and ended up at the Jinnah Stadium.

National Assembly of Pakistan’s resolution calls for end to YouTube ban

National Assembly of Pakistan’s resolution calls for end to YouTube ban

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution to lift the ban on video-sharing website YouTube, which has been in place since September 2012 when sacrilegious material was uploaded on it.

The resolution, moved by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Shazia Marri, has been lingering for the last few sessions, and finally sailed through the House on Tuesday. Shazia Marri contended that all Muslim countries have lifted the ban on this website, and there is no need to have it in place in Pakistan. Minister for Health Services and National Regulations Saira Afzal Tarar said that the government is in favour of lifting the ban and suggested that all the political parties should sit together to resolve the issue.
However, she told the House that the higher courts where the case is being heard have not given any verdict so far. The National Assembly voted unanimously to lift the ban on YouTube, in a non-binding resolution that was nonetheless welcomed by free speech campaigners as an important symbolic move. The video-sharing website has been blocked in Pakistan since September 2012 over its hosting of the “Innocence of Muslims” movie that sparked furious protests around the world.
A US appeals court in February ordered Google, which owns YouTube, to remove the film after a lawsuit brought by an actress who says she was tricked into appearing in it, but the Pakistani ban remains in place. Shazia Marri said students and researchers were suffering as a result of the blackout. “We have been disconnected from the world by the ban on YouTube,” she said. The deputy speaker of the House, Murtaza Javed Abbasi later read out the resolution and all the lawmakers voted in its favour.
“The house resolves that government may take immediate steps for opening of YouTube,” he said. Responding to the resolution, Saira Afzal Tarar said the government was in favour of lifting the ban but it was in the hands of the courts. “YouTube has been banned on the orders of Supreme Court and there is another case regarding the ban in Lahore High Court and the matter is sub judice. However the house can suggest names to form a committee to work on the issue,” she said.
After the vote, Marri told AFP it was time for Pakistan to give up what she termed its “double standard”.”The Pakistani Taliban launches their website and the (government) does not take action against it, but it maintains a ban on YouTube,” she said. It was the PPP government which initially imposed the ban. Marri defended this, saying religious hardliners at the time were “outraged”. Though the resolution is not legally binding, it was seen as a positive step by anti-censorship campaigners.
Shahzad Ahmed, director of a group called Bytes for All that campaigns against Internet censorship and has asked a court to overturn the ban, said it was a “very welcome” move. “It’s great news and I think it’s time for the political leadership to take the lead in resolving the issue,” he said. But some observers remained doubtful. Newspaper columnist and commentator Harris Khalique said the government was reluctant to lift the ban as it doesn’t want to confront the religious groups. “Slapping a ban on YouTube was purely political but garbed in respect for religion,” he told AFP.
“It is a ridiculous way of appeasing the orthodox religious groups who are in a minority but create a huge nuisance.” Free speech campaigners in Pakistan have long complained of creeping censorship in the name of protecting religion or preventing obscenity. In November 2011 the telecommunications authority tried to ban nearly 1,700 “obscene” words from text messages, which included innocuous terms such as “lotion”, “athlete’s foot” and “idiot”.
Meanwhile, responding to a call attention notice moved by Shaista Pervaiz, Saira Tarar said that the World Health Organisation’s travel restrictions are not Pakistan-specific, as two other countries, Cameron and Syria, have also given the same treatment. “The government has called a meeting of all the provincial health ministers and representatives of health departments tomorrow (Wednesday) to devise a strategy to address the issue”, she told the house.

Five burn centres in limbo despite passage of five years

Five burn centres in limbo despite passage of five years

Karachi: The construction work of five new burns centers project started in 2009 by Health Department in different cities of Sindh province could not be completed in 2014 despite the passage of five years due the lethargy of provincial government.

A reliable source of Health Department Sindh wished not to name said construction work of five burns centers project started in 2009 by Health Department in different cities of Sindh province could not be completed in 2014 despite the passage of five years due the lethargy of provincial government.
He said health department Sindh had initiated the construction work of five new burns centers in different cities of province in 2009 with cost of approximately 255 million and project was to be complete in 2011. But unfortunately the constriction works of these five burns centers could be completed in 2014 due non-serious attitude of authorities concerned.
The plan of construction of five burns centers in different cities Sindh approved by the Former Provincial Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed in different cities like- Sindh Government Liaquatabad Hospital, Liaquat University & Hospital Jamshoro (Hyderabad), Chandka Hospital Larkana, Ghulam Muhammad Mehar Medical Collage Sukkur and Civil Hospital Mirpurkhas to treat the patients with burns injuries at regional level in province.
He informed over 1,000 burns cases are being reported every year in Sindh and the number of burns-related injuries is increasing sharply. He said construction of these burns center will maximize the ratio of precious lives lost in province which occurred due to cylinder blast, fire, acid, electricity and other reasons. He said most of patients lost live before reaching to Karachi from interior Sindh, thus the construction of these burns center is important.
He said Burns Center Karachi is operating under public private partnership of government which could not meet the actual requirement of patient with burns injures in mostly brought from far-flung areas of province. He said there are capacity 65 beds in hospital for burns patients, but needs new burns centers in province to tackle the burns injuries at regional level.
Senior Plastic Surgeon and In-charge Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) Burns Center Dr Ehmer -Al-Ibran, when contacted, said over 40 percent burden of burns injuries would be shared with the construction five new burns centers in Sindh province.
He said burns injures treatment facilities are available at Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS) Jamshoro (Hyderabad) and Chankda Medical College Larkana, but mostly people with severe burns injures were brought Burns Center Karachi for treatment due to its reputation and better health facilities.
Dr Ehmer said over 40 percent burden of burns injuries would be shared with the construction five burns centers and upgrading the services facilities in LUMHS and Larkana. He said construction of burns center and up-gradation not only shared the burden of burn injuries, but also helps to reduce the mortality ratio occur due to different burns injuries.
General Secretary Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Karachi Qazi M Wasiq, when contacted, said governments approved the summaries of different projects related with public welfare every year, but these projects remained in papers or in newspapers announcements. He said projects should not contain in documents it should be implemented in letter and spirit.
He said five new burns center largely benefits the general public as sole burns center Karachi could deal the cases of burns injuries. He urged the authorities concern to start construction work on burns centers in better interest general public.

Bahria University Karachi organises Earth Day walk

Bahria University Karachi organises Earth Day walk

KARACHI: Bahria University, Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences celebrated ‘Earth Day’ by organising “A Walk for Earth” on Monday from Bahria University Karachi campus to Agha Khan University & Hospital.
The observance of Earth Day is basically meant to remind the dwellers of this planet Earth about their responsibility to keep the Environment of earth clean pure & as natural as possible.
The Walk was attended by a large numbers of Students, Faculty Members and Staff. Director Karachi Campus, Captain Mohsin Hayat Malik TI (M) PN, while addressing to the audience, briefed them about the importance of Earth Day and also appreciated the efforts of the Earth & Environmental Sciences Department for organizing this event colorful. Later, the walk commenced, which was lead by Director Campus.

New schedule for HSSC papers announced – Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK)

New schedule for HSSC papers announced - Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK)

KARACHI: Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK) on Monday announced Pakistan Study and Statistics papers of Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) examination, which were postponed on May 2 due to strike in the city would now be held on May 15, 2014.

According to Controller of Examinations of BIEK Muhammad Imran Khan Chushti, F.Sc Home Economics and Medical Technology groups Pakistan Study paper would be held from 9:30 am to 11:30 am on May 15, while Commerce regular part II Statistic paper will be held from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm.

University of Karachi announces new schedule for postponed papers

University of Karachi announces new schedule for postponed papers

KARACHI: University of Karachi on Sunday announced that MA Previous and MBBS Final Profession examination papers, postponed on 2 May, will be held on 9 May 2014, while BS Physiotherapy postponed papers will be held on 26 May. No change has been done in Examination Centers and given time for all the three papers. These papers were scheduled to be held on 2 May but due to strike in the city on the same day, they were postponed.

Experts assail govt for burdening children with heavy syllabus – Demand 30% reduction in unnecessary stuff in courses

Experts assail govt for burdening children with heavy syllabus - Demand 30% reduction in unnecessary stuff in courses

Experts assail govt for burdening children with heavy syllabus - Demand 30% reduction in unnecessary stuff in courses

Experts assail govt for burdening children with heavy syllabus – Demand 30% reduction in unnecessary stuff in courses

KARACHI: Experts on Sunday flayed government for putting heavy syllabus burden on children studying from class one to 10th and called for immediate reduction in courses by 30% so as to rid students of mental torture and heavy bags full of copies and text books.

“In Pakistan educational system faces many issues, one of which is lengthy syllabus, which needs to be resolved for good future of children. It is irony that Pakistans educational system is also not uniform, while the government institutes are not preparing students to perform well in their examinations. The heavy syllabus is over burdening students. They cannot prepare such a tormenting heavy syllabus because of the fact that their memory capacity is low as compared to their ages,” said education expert and researcher Syeda Khushbakht while talking to PPI on the issue of heavy syllabus and bad governance in education system of Pakistan.
“There is need to exclude unnecessary stuff from heavy syllabus which is not matching todays life. This syllabus must be reduced by 25-30 % for good of children. Pakistan has two types of entirely independent educational systems. One is private and other is government sector. There is need to have uniform education system,” she said.
Khushbakht said as private sector is very much concerned with their result, so teachers have to finish the courses in schools before time, but contrary to it, the government school teachers rarely finish courses or finish it on the nick of the hour, which is not fruitful for students.
“First of all, teaching methodology should be changed to interactive and direct method. Secondly, technology should be introduced to teaching tools even in government schools. Education is the only way through which a nation can flourish. The sincerity of teachers and good syllabus can make educational system more effective in the society,” she concluded.
Search Pakistan executive director and education researcher, Waheed Jamali, said that private and government schools have put heavy burden of courses on students of primary, middle and matriculation classes, which is totally unjustified. The syllabus of private schools should be reduced by at least 30 percent so as to provide relief to children from mental torments.
He asked the government to raise education budget up to 8 percent of GDP so that this vital sector could be developed. There is need to improve governance in education system besides introducing practical based education syllabus. He said that heavy bags on shoulders of students could create health problems for kids, Jamali added.
Primary Teachers Association Sindh leader Ali Gul said that it is fact that courses being taught from one to 10th class are very heavy and students are not capable to remind all those. The long questioning system in examinations should also be abolished while short questioning system be introduced.
He suggested 30 % to 50 % reduction in these courses for making education system stable and progressive. He said: “It is unfortunate that our country has double standard in education system. Poor could not have money to get higher education, while rich ones are receiving education in higher education institutes and get jobs in multinational companies with ease.
He said a study revealed that 30% of school-going kids complain of back pain. Heavy bags can cause permanent disability, so why isn’t anything being done to counter this issue?
The teachers association leader said that there was high rate of corruption in education sector which must be brought to an end for progress of the nation and the country.

SHC issues notice on petition for allowing jailed accused to take exam

SHC issues notice on petition for allowing jailed accused to take exam

KARACHI: Father of a 17-year-old accused killer on Saturday approached Sindh High Court (SHC) seeking Court’s directives for authorities concerned providing his son facilities to take intermediate examination inside Karachi Central Prison.

A division bench of SHC headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi issued notice to home secretary, superintendent Karachi Central Prison and chairman Board of Intermediate Education Karachi to file comments on a petition by Monday.
Muhammad Anwar Sanjrani said his son Muhammad Attar Sanjrani was student at Saint Patricks College Saddar in Intermediate pre-engineering Science group. His annual intermediate examination 2014 has commenced from April 22 and he already has been issued admit card, he added. Unfortunately my son has been nominated in FIR 12/2014 related to murder of one 19-year Sajjad Ali at Bahadurabad Police Station adding my son was presently confined at the Central Prison and wanted to give papers from prison but he was not being facilitated.

Fatima Jinnah Dental College Karachi 17th convocation

Fatima Jinnah Dental College Karachi 17th convocation

KARACHI: The final result of the 17th batch of students of Bachelor of Dentistry and Surgery (BDS) declared by the Karachi University shows 97 percent success rate.
18 Gold medals were awarded to the graduates securing the highest marks in various subjects during their 4-year course plan. As many as 199 distinctions were granted in various subjects to students during their 4-year examinations while 12 shields were awarded to the top position holders in the four professional classes.
The top graduate of the 17th Convocation was Anum Iqbal Malik who secured 7 gold medals and 13 distinctions out of 16 subjects, apart from securing top positions in various annual examinations.
Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Qaidar appreciated the contribution of Fatima Jinnah Dental College during its 22 years of affiliation to Karachi University.
He appreciated the faculty development programme of the College, which has produced a large number of highly qualified postgraduate faculty with M.Phil and Ph.D degrees from his University besides MCPS, FCPS, MD and MS from national and international institutions. He advised all such colleges to emulate this example.
The facilities being provided by the Karachi University to the faculty carrying out research and post graduation has record of number of research publication of this College.
Prof Dr Issa Arain has a history of being head and principal of dental section and College at LMC Jamshoro for 25 years from 1972 to 1996 and Principal of Fatima Jinnah Dental College for 15 years from 1997 to 2011.
This period of 40 years at the highest post is unmatched till today.
He was also a member of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council for 22 years in various capacities and guided the dental education policy to the level where it was today.
He was given standing ovation by the faculty, administration, graduates and their parents for his contribution to dentistry in Pakistan.
The Principal Prof Tasleem Hosein presented the annual report and mentioned Prof Saqib Rashid has become a Diplomat Implant Dentistry of the International Congress of Implantologists.
He is the second Pakistani dentist to have achieved this honour.
The Royal College of Surgeons of England has invited Dr Babur Ashra Head Department of Orthodontics as an examiner. This is indeed a great honour.
Dr Uzman Shahbaz and Dr Fauzia Rajput achieved their FCPS from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan.
Dr Faryal Abdullah achieved her DCPS in Healthcare Systems and Management from the CPSP. She is also a graduate of this College like many others.
The Dean Faculty of Medicine Prof Dr S M Abbas Hussain administered the PMDC Oath to the graduates. Dr S Baqar Askary, Syed Hassan Askary and others also spoke on the occasion.