Government College University Lahore Debating Society (GCUDS) won declamation

Government College University Lahore Debating Society (GCUDS) won declamation

Lahore: Government College University Lahore Debating Society (GCUDS) has won the All Pakistan Bilingual Declamation Contest 2013 organised by Allama Iqbal Medical College (AIMS).

GCUDS President Saad-ul-Hassan was announced the best Urdu orator of the contest, while GCU student Khwaja Yaseen secured the third position in the English debate. According to a press release, the GCU also lifted the team trophy.

Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Khaleeq-ur-Rahman congratulated the GCU team on winning the event.

Punjab Textbook Board moves against Punjab caretaker chief minister Sethi

Punjab Textbook Board moves against Punjab caretaker chief minister Sethi

Punjab Textbook Board moves against Punjab caretaker chief minister Sethi

Punjab Textbook Board moves against Punjab caretaker chief minister Sethi

LAHORE – The Lahore High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Punjab government and other respondents on a petition challenging the order of Punjab caretaker chief minister refraining Punjab Textbook Board from participating in the bids for development of manuscripts of textbooks.
The court issued this order on a petition of Muhammad Akhtar Sherani, general secretary of Punjab Textbook Board Employees Welfare Society, challenging the order of the caretaker CM. The judge sought replies from the respondents by or before June 03, the next date of hearing.
The petitioner has made chief secretary Punjab, Punjab Curriculum Authority, Punjab Textbook Board, secretary school education department, and caretaker chief minister Najam Sethi as central chairman Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association as respondents.
The petitioner through Advocate Hafiz Tariq Nasim submitted that in 1971 West Pakistan Textbook Board was substituted by the Punjab Textbook Board. Since its establishment, the PTB used to get the manuscript of textbooks written through open competition and after scrutinizing and getting approval from federal government published textbooks by itself or through private publishers. He added that after the 18th constitutional amendment, the subject of education has been devolved to the provinces, and the government of the Punjab has promulgated “The Punjab Curriculum Authority Act 2012” whereby the role of the PTB was curtailed but as per the provisions the PTB is also supposed to compete with any person in development and selection of textbooks.
The petitioner said that the private publishers with a view to grab the publication of text books and dethrone the PTB from open competition started maneuvering the situation. He said Najam Sethi being the chairman of Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association filed a representation before the then chief minister Punjab on June 12, 2012 requesting to refrain the PTB from developing manuscripts for its own books. He said the CM took no action on the representation and the Punjab Curriculum Authority published an advertisement on April 10, 2013 inviting bids from private persons and agencies including the PTB on open competition.
In pursuance of the advertisement, the PTB also applied for competing with other publishers but misfortune of the petitioner that before the finalisation of the bid, Mr Sethi, the complainant against the PTB, became the caretaker chief minister Punjab and barred the PTB from participating in the bid on an application filed before himself through vice chairman of Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association Saleem Malik on April 18, 2013.
He said after the approval of the application, the Punjab Curriculum Authority readvertised for inviting bids for the manuscripts on May 13 ousting the PTB from participating in the open competition.
The petitioner said, this approval granted by the caretaker CM was illegal and unlawful and it is well settled axiom of law that “No one can be a judge of his own cause”.
The petitioner prayed the court to set aside the advertisement of PCA dated May 13 and restore its advertisement dated April 10 allowing the PTB to participate in open competition for development of the manuscripts of the textbooks in accordance with the law.

National College of Arts (NCA) fires six contractual faculty members

National College of Arts (NCA)  fires six contractual faculty members

National College of Arts (NCA)  fires six contractual faculty members

National College of Arts (NCA) fires six contractual faculty members

LAHORE- The National College of Arts (NCA) administration has fired six contractual faculty members by violating the Cabinet Division decision and putting the future of students on stake, The Nation has learnt on Tuesday.

According to a letter issued by the NCA Registrar services of six contractual faculty members of various departments have been terminated and they are asked not to conduct classes or attend the college. Theses six faculty members include Department of Architecture Assistant professor Hafsa Imtiaz, Department of Film and Television Assistant Prof Tauseef Zain-ul-Abideen, Department of Film and Television Lecturer Abid Ahsan, Department of Musicology Lecturer Zafar Iqbal and Department of Ceramics Design Lecturer Muhammad Navid.
It is to be mentioned here that after the devolution of federal education ministry, the Cabinet Division is looking after the matters of the educational institutions falling under the jurisdiction of Federal Government.
The Cabinet Division in its meeting, held on May 31, 2012 under the chairmanship of the then federal minister for religious affairs Khursheed Shah in the establishment division, had decided that “the service of any of the contractual/daily wages employees in the ministries division/ Attached departments/ autonomous bodies/ organizations who has completed more than one year of service of his/her employment will not be terminated without brining his case before the cabinet sub-committee.”
One of the fired faculty members told The Nation that most of them had been working with NCA for more than five years. He said the principal had personal issues with some faculty members and due to which she did not renew their contracts. He said, “We have been barred from conducting classes from May 9, 2013 without considering that the classes were ongoing and the half term of semesters has passed. The students are suffering because the college did not arrange alternative for them.”
He said all these teachers had been teaching from 12 to 18 hours per week and now there was no one to teach these subjects. Giving example, he said the contracts’ time of some other contractual teachers including Assistant Professor Irfan Ghani, Assistant Prof Aqeel Kazmi, Associate Professor Maryam Hussain and Associate Professor Laila Rahman have also expired but they were still teaching at NCA. He accused that the principal (who is actually acting principal) had no experience of administration. “She is ruining the atmosphere of the college and currently the college has become worst example of mismanagement.”
He also said they would move to the court if the issue would not be settled.
When contacted, NCA Principal Dr Shabnam Khan said that she had nothing to do with termination of these contractual teachers and their contracts expired after completion of due time. She said she was not competent authority to extend contract of any one. “The competent authority is Board of Governors of the college which does not exist currently and its absence competent authority is Cabinet Division. These teachers should request to the Cabinet Division and I will be with them for this purpose. But I can not do it by myself.”

5,659 children fall prey to violence in 10 months

5,659 children fall prey to violence in 10 months

5,659 children fall prey to violence in 10 months

5,659 children fall prey to violence in 10 months

ISLAMABAD- Violence against children remains culturally entrenched, as children in Pakistan have to cope with physical violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, recruitment in armed conflict, and acid attacks.
During the first 10 months of 2012, about 5,659 cases of violence against children were reported, says a report. The report ‘State of Pakistan’s Children 2012′ provides a systematic overview of annual developments in various sectors that are relevant to children including child rights, education, health, violence against children, administration of juvenile justice and child labour. The annual report was launched by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) on Tuesday.
The 2012 report provides a dismal account of the deteriorating state of child rights in Pakistan. It reveals that in 2012, around 5,659 cases of violence against children were reported from across Pakistan from January to October 2012. These included 943 murders, 1,170 injuries, 302 cases of sodomy, 204 cases of child trafficking, 410 forced marriages, 164 Karo Kari incidents, and 260 cases of missing children. Other incidents of violence included 407 cases of sexual assault, 547 torture cases, 323 child suicides, 530 kidnappings and 176 Vani cases.
In the absence of a national database on violence against children, the report relies on secondary sources to give the prevalence of various forms of violence against children. According to the report a total of 3,861 cases of child sexual abuse (CSA) were reported from different parts of the country in 2012. These included 2,788 cases reported in newspapers, 20 cases reported directly to Sahil, 22 cases reported by Rozan, and 1,031 incidents reported by Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA) helpline. Of the 2,788 cases reported in newspapers, 1,450 (52 per cent of the total) cases occurred in rural areas while 1,338 (48pc) cases were reported from urban areas. The majority of the cases was reported from Punjab (68pc), followed by Sindh (19pc), KP (5 pc), Balochistan (3pc) and Fata (3pc).
The report stressed the need to pass all pending legislation on child protection. This includes the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill 2013, the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2013 and the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act 2009. It is also imperative that the provinces enact relevant child protection legislation after the 18th Amendment.
It says the number of juveniles detained in prisons decreased from 1,421 in 2011 to 1,398 in 2012. The detainees included 1,219 under trial and 179 convicted juveniles. In 2012, Punjab had the highest number of juvenile offenders (815), followed by Sindh (303), KP (233) and Balochistan (47).
“Pakistan lacks adequate facilities to deal with children who come in conflict with the law”. The report also lamented 12 years after the promulgation of the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) 2000, there is ineffective implementation of the law as children are denied bail, kept with adult prisoners and produced in fetters and handcuffs before the court.

Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS Faculty Publishes on Artificial Atoms

Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS Faculty Publishes on Artificial Atoms

Dr. Ata ul Haq, Assistant Professor, Physics faculty has published research work in Optics Letters. The work is titled “Mollow quintuplets from coherently excited quantum dots”.

The work is related to the unique features of so called “artificial” atoms. Nobel Prize in Physics for 2012 rewarded physicists who pioneered experimental work on single atoms and ions. These entities obey quantum physics which can behave much different from the classical world we live in. This quantum nature of atoms and ions can be harnessed to develop an entirely new paradigm of computation and communication, collectively known as quantum information processing.

Working with single atoms and ions, however presents experimental difficulties which hinders their use for practical information systems. Scientists therefore are working on “artificial atoms” which are easier to handle and can be integrated with current integrated circuit technology. The authors in this work discuss some of the crucial differences between ‘real’ and ‘artificial’ atoms. New interesting features of artificial atoms are discussed which are not observed in real atoms thus providing an interesting platform for future quantum information schemes.

The work was a result of collaboration between researchers from LUMS; University of Stuttgart, Germany and Queens University, Ontario, Canada.

SBASSE Faculty Paper at Digital Design Conference in Spain – Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS

SBASSE Faculty Paper at Digital Design Conference in Spain - Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS

SBASSE Faculty Paper at Digital Design Conference in Spain - Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS

SBASSE Faculty Paper at Digital Design Conference in Spain – Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS

 

Dr. Muhammad Adeel Pasha

Dr. Muhammad Adeel Pasha

Dr. Adeel Pasha, LUMS faculty at the Electrical Engineering Department, Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering (SBASSE), has had his paper, titled “Component-Level Datapath Merging in System-Level Design of Wireless Sensor Node Controllers for FPGA-based Implementations” accepted at the 16th EuroMicro Digital System Design Conference (DSD’13), Santander, Spain.

The research work was carried out in collaboration with Professors Olivier Sentieys and Steven Derrien of the University of Rennes-1 and INRIA Rennes, France.

The EuroMicro Digital System Design Conference is one of the premier conferences in design automation of electronic systems and digital systems design domain.

Dr. Muhammad Adeel Pasha received his B.Sc. Electrical Engineering degree from UET Lahore in 2004 and his M.S. Research in Embedded Systems degree from University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis in 2007. He then received a merit scholarship from government of France to continue his research work and received his PhD degree from University of Rennes-1 in 2010. His research interests include low-power micro-architecture, energy-efficient WSN node platforms, hardware specialization and electronic design automation tools (such as high-level synthesis and retargetable ASIP-compilation).

Northern Sudan Set to Eliminate River Blindness (Listen to audio report)

Northern Sudan Set to Eliminate River Blindness (Listen to audio report)

A laborer tends to a field in the Central African Republic, despite his affliction with river blindness

A laborer tends to a field in the Central African Republic, despite his affliction with river blindness

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River blindness may soon be a thing of the past in East Africa.

Scientists believe a long-term community drug treatment in Abu Hamed, Sudan has eradicated this parasitic disease, which causes severe skin problems and in some cases, total blindness.

Abu Hamed is the world’s northernmost location of onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness. In 1998, residents of this Nile River town began a community-directed treatment program of ivermectin, a medication that stems the infestation of worms.

In 2012, treatment was halted after scientists found that following eight years of annual treatment and six years of semi-annual treatment, there was no evidence of the disease or its transmission around Abu Hamed.

Dr. Tarig Higazi, who was born and raised in Sudan, is a professor at Ohio University and lead author for the study. His team studied three primary onchocerciasis-endemic areas in Sudan and South Sudan

Higazi said that the findings from northern Sudan are significant.

“And we now prove that the disease is not transmitted. So there’s no more treatment in northern Sudan,” he said. “And hopefully, in a couple of years, we’ll be able to prove that the disease has been eliminated.”

The disease will be officially declared eliminated in Abu Hamed after three years of mandatory post-treatment surveillance are complete, in accordance with World Health Organization guidelines.

Higazi said that this is the first time river blindness appears to have been completely eliminated in a large remote area – with over 100,000 people at risk in Abu Hamed.

“It is very isolated, it’s far away from any other endemic areas, it’s in the middle of the Sahara Desert, basically, meaning that it’s only confined to a little area,” he said.

Onchocerkiasis is transmitted by black flies that breed in fast-moving waterways. The flies serve as disease vectors, so when they bite humans, they deposit larvae under the skin that develop into adult worms.

As the worms grow under the skin, they cause severe itching and discomfort. In South Sudan, Higazi said, the disease more closely resembles the West African strain, where blindness occurs.

But, not everyone with river blindness goes blind.

Higazi asserted that in Sudan, for example, people do not lose their eyesight from the disease. Instead, they suffer from what locals call soouda, meaning that the limb appears completely black.

“And the interesting thing about the disease is that it was not a blinding disease. So, you barely see any blind people,” he said. “But, the skin reactions, there are very severe skin reactions, but basically there is no blindness.”

Scientists from the Carter Center, a U.S.-based NGO focused on health, human rights, and democracy initiatives, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attribute the global progress in eliminating the disease to ivermectin, the de-worming medication.

Experts like Dr. Mark Eberhard, a senior microbiologist with the CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, said that this medicine – all on its own, is a bit of a miracle worker.

“Just to clarify and be really clear, that when given long enough, often enough and to a high percentage of the population, ivermectin can not only control the disease, but you can interrupt transmission,” he said.

According to the Carter Center, river blindness in Africa accounts for more than 99 percent of cases worldwide.

And within Africa, the World Bank estimates that more than 102 million people suffer from the disease.

Scientists Developing New Weapon Against Malaria

Scientists Developing New Weapon Against Malaria

In this June 4, 2012 file photo, vehicles move past Pakistani day laborers sleeping under a mosquito net. A new insecticide could be sprayed on nets to kill mosquitoes.(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen,)

In this June 4, 2012 file photo, vehicles move past Pakistani day laborers sleeping under a mosquito net. A new insecticide could be sprayed on nets to kill mosquitoes.(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen,)

Scientists are making progress in developing a new species-specific insecticide that would be lethal only to insects that carry malaria.

According to scientists at Virginia Tech and theUniversity of Florida the insecticide would be far less toxic to beneficial insects such as bees. They say the insecticide is formulated to interfere with an enzyme found in the nervous system of mosquitoes and other organisms called acetylcholinesterase. If the effectiveness of the enzyme is disrupted, it causes an organism to convulse and die.

“A simple analogy would be that we’re trying to make a key that fits perfectly into a lock,” said entomologist Jeff Bloomquist, a professor at the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute and its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “We want to shut down the enzyme, but only in target species.”

Scientists are trying to perfect the mosquito-specific compounds and manufacture them on a large scale so that they can be applied to netting where mosquitoes might land. They say it will take at least four to five years before a compound is ready to be submitted for federal approval.

The team recently published a study in the journal Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology comparing eight experimental compounds with commercially available insecticides that target the enzyme.

Though they were less toxic to mosquitoes than commercial products, the experimental compounds were far more selective, indicating researchers are on the right track, Bloomquist said.

“The compounds we’re using are not very toxic to honeybees, fish and mammals, but we need to refine them further, make them more toxic to mosquitoes and safer for non-target organisms,” he said.

Malaria is caused by microscopic organisms called protists, which are present in the saliva of infected female mosquitoes and transmitted when the mosquitoes bite. Initial symptoms of the disease can include fever, chills, convulsions, headaches and nausea. In severe cases, malaria can cause kidney failure, coma and death.

Worldwide, malaria infected about 219 million people in 2010 and killed about 660,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 90 percent of those infected lived in Africa.

Indonesia Struggles with High Maternal Death Rate

Indonesia Struggles with High Maternal Death Rate

Indonesia Struggles with High Maternal Death Rate

Indonesia Struggles with High Maternal Death Rate

JAKARTA — Despite political and economic progress over the past decade, Indonesia still struggles with one of the highest rates of maternal death in the developing world. This is largely due to a lack of access to health and family planning services – something the country’s health minister is working hard to improve. She believes giving women more control over their reproductive health is crucial.

On Wednesday, Indonesia’s Health Minister, Nafsiah Mboi, will address thousands of activists and policymakers attending a global conference on women’s health in Kuala Lumpur.

The discussion will focus on ways countries can  accomplish one of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals by improving women’s access to family planning services.

Mboi says improving women’s access to family planning services in Indonesia is difficult because of its geography. More than 17,000 islands comprise the archipelago, only 6,000 of which are inhabited.  Another difficulty, she says, is political. Health services are controlled by local governments.

But, Mboi said, she is committed to meeting the needs of each region.

“We have added health facilities, puskasmas, and the puskasmas have been equipped with much better equipment, have better trained midwives, but still a lot needs to be done because Indonesia is so big,” she explained.

Family planning 

Mboi said family planning is a top priority where women’s health is disadvantaged by too many births.  In others, she says the priority should be toward prevention and health promotion.

She also said improving access to services is necessary to reduce cases of excess bleeding, hypertension and infection during child birth, the main causes of maternal death in Indonesia.

“I believe family planning is inter-related with reproductive health and rights,” Mboi said.

Not everyone agrees. In the Philippines, for instance, opposition from leaders of the Catholic Church has delayed the implementation of a controversial law that would provide free access to contraception and family planning services.

Criticism 

In Indonesia, Mboi has received harsh criticism from conservative officials and religious leaders for her efforts to increase condom use among at-risk groups. Since taking over the health ministry last year, she has softened her advocacy of certain types of contraception and focused more on family planning generally as a means of ensuring safe, healthy and wanted pregnancies.

Despite the challenges, she says Indonesia needs to take a more participatory approach to family planning that will involve local governments and religious leaders. It also needs to ensure family planning is included as part of a national health insurance scheme to be rolled out in 2014.

A recent report by Save the Children on the situation facing the world’s mothers ranked Indonesia 106 out of 130 developing countries, below China and Vietnam, but above the Philippines and East Timor.

Women Deliver Conference Opens (Listen to audio report)

Women Deliver Conference Opens (Listen to audio report)

3rd Women Deliver global conference focuses on health, reproductive rights. (Credit: Women Deliver)

3rd Women Deliver global conference focuses on health, reproductive rights. (Credit: Women Deliver)

 

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The Women Deliver conference opens Tuesday (5/280) in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. Organizers call it the largest global meeting of the decade on the health and well-being of women and girls.

About 7,000 people have gathered for Women Deliver, including government and business leaders, policymakers and NGO representatives.

Felecia Wong is senior advisor for Asia and Eastern Europe for the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. She says sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls must be a priority.

“If a young women or a young girl cannot access information about family planning, it’s often also most likely that they won’t be able to access information about HIV, which puts them at higher risk for unintended pregnancy, as well as getting HIV because they’re both sexually transmitted,” she said.

Serra Sippel, President of the Center for Health and Gender Equality, agreed.

“We still have unacceptably high rates of maternal mortality – over 300,000 a year. And we have an unmet need for contraception. Over 200 million women are without contraception, who need it and who want it,” she said.

Sippel said that a lack of access has wide-ranging consequences.

“Not having access to family planning – not having access to really basic health care, in general, for women – means that you’re not able to space your children, which would mean that you’re at high risk for a difficult pregnancy and possible death through child birth. And also the children, you need to space children so that they grow up and can be healthy,” she said.

Felicia Wong said that more than 30 years into the HIV/AIDS epidemic the disease still hits women hard.

“For women of reproductive age, HIV is still the leading cause of death, and HIV-related mortality accounts for one-fifth of all maternal deaths. And globally, young women between the ages of 15 and 24 have higher infection rates, which are as much as twice as high as young men their same age group.”

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance and other groups are launching the Link Up program.

Wong said, “Link Up is an ambitious five country program with activities in Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The aim of that project is to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young people between the ages of 10 and 24 — and to address in addition to their health needs their rights to access.”

Serra Sippel of the Center for Health and Gender Equality said the conference host country has made gains.

“I think it’s significant that the Women Deliver conference taking place in Malaysia is an example of where we can look at progress, in terms of a country where the maternal mortality rates have gone down – that women do have access to contraception – and the country is thriving economically, that families are thriving,” she said.

However, both Sippel and Wong said the United Nations Millennium Development Goals on health have not been fully met. The MDGs come due in 2015.  They said that plans should be made now to ensure women’s health and reproductive rights after that date.

The Women Deliver conference runs until May 30th.

School Lunches Vital to Children’s Health, Education says World Food Program

School Lunches Vital to Children’s Health, Education says World Food Program

Catherine Bertini, former Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), dishes out lunch to pupils,

Catherine Bertini, former Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), dishes out lunch to pupils,

DAKAR — Educators in low-income areas everywhere struggle with one of the most basic hurdles to teaching children – students showing up to school hungry.

The U.N. World Food Program said in its 2013 State of School Feeding Worldwide report that supplying meals and snacks to students is a proven benefit, but that the programs are still not reaching children who need them most. Researchers have found that supplying free lunches to students in rural primary schools not only made them healthier, it raised their test scores.

During the academic school year of 2009-2010, researchers in Senegal did an experiment.

They took 120 rural primary schools in four of the poorest regions of Senegal.

Students at half the schools received free, daily lunches – a local dish of rice with vegetables, either fish or meat, cooked in oil.

Students at the other 60 schools did not.

The director of the Consortium for Social Economic Research (CRES) in Dakar, Abdoulaye Diagne, led the study.

He said students who received school meals were better able to memorize and reason. He said they learned and understood more than those students who did not receive meals.

Standardized test scores, the study found, went up an average of 7 percentage points in French and 8.5 percentage points in math. The effect was much greater for girls and the youngest students.

The study also compared the nutritional value of meals supplied at school with what kids would normally eat at home, and found the nutritional well-being of students who received the meals improved over the course of the year.

The World Food Program says that about $75 billion goes into school feeding programs each year worldwide. Most of this money comes from governments.

However, the WFP said only 18 percent of children in the poorest countries receive a daily meal at school, compared to nearly half of children in middle-income countries.

“School meals are a crucially important part and play a huge role in schools around the world. It means, in practicalities, kids can concentrate. They can study. They stay in school. They will send their own children to school one day. Girls will have fewer children if they have school meals and an education; they marry at a later stage,” stated Bettina Luescher, World Food Program spokesperson. “And there’s this huge impact on how they grow up to become strong, smart adults.”

Luescher said that school feeding programs also buffer children from crises – like droughts, war, or a spike in food prices. “Then, school meals are a way of keeping children in school. It’s often the only way that families can afford to keep their children fed. And sometimes it’s the only meal that some of these children get,” Luescher added.

The big drawback is the cost – especially in low-income countries where the cost of feeding programs is often more than annual tuition.

However, the WFP estimates that for every dollar spent on a school meal, countries will see three dollars in economic returns: Local farmers, for example, benefit because they can sell their food to the school meal programs, and the country builds a smarter workforce.

Angelina Jolie’s Aunt Dies of Breast Cancer

Angelina Jolie’s Aunt Dies of Breast Cancer

US Actress Angelina Jolie in London

US Actress Angelina Jolie in London

LOS ANGELES — Angelina Jolie’s aunt died of breast cancer Sunday, May 27, nearly two weeks after the Hollywood movie star wrote about electing to have a double mastectomy when she learned that she had inherited a high risk of breast cancer.

Debbie Martin, the younger sister of Jolie’s mother, died at age 61 at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, near San Diego.

Her husband, Ron Martin, praised Jolie’s decision to get a double mastectomy, saying it made his late wife very happy.

“It gave her some, it gave her a lot of gratitude that she could have, that Angelina had now saved her own life, you know, whereas… and since she couldn’t go back and save herself, she was very happy to hear that,” Martin said during an interview.

Jolie, 37, is raising a family with fellow actor and fiance Brad Pitt. She wrote that she went through with the operation in part to reassure her six children that she would not die young from cancer, as her own mother did.

Jolie’s mother, Marcheline Bertrand, died of breast cancer in 2007 at age 56.

“If there is a lot of women out there that have a high risk in their family they should get tested, and if they have that BRCA gene, then they have the opportunity to take pre-emptive action. And that is what Debbie would like to have happen,” added Martin.

Jolie, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress in her 1999 role for the film Girl, Interrupted, said she opted for the surgery after her doctors had estimated she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, due to an inherited genetic mutation.

Revelers Brave Cold to Fight AIDS at Vienna Ball

Revelers Brave Cold to Fight AIDS at Vienna Ball

Guests in fancy costumes arrive for the opening ceremony of the 21st Life Ball in front of city hall in Vienna, Austria, May 25, 2013

Guests in fancy costumes arrive for the opening ceremony of the 21st Life Ball in front of city hall in Vienna, Austria, May 25, 2013

VIENNA, AUSTRIA — ^Revelers brave cold to fight AIDS at Vienna ball@
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, singer Elton John and actor Hilary Swank joined thousands of costumed revelers on Saturday at Europe’s biggest AIDS charity event, Vienna’s Life Ball.  Dressed in skimpy costumes for the ball’s 1,001 Nights theme, or simply in extravagant drag, party-goers braved unseasonably chilly temperatures of 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit) for the outdoor party.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, addressing the gathering in a video message, urged the world not to let up in the fight against AIDS, which has killed 30 million people since the auto-immmune disease was first recognized at the start of the 1980s.  “A generation free of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is now in sight,” he told the crowd in the gardens of Vienna’s City Hall. “But unless we intensify our response, a million children could get HIV by 2015.”

A guest arrives for the opening ceremony of the 21st Life Ball in Vienna, May 25, 2013.
The annual ball, now in its 21st year, has grown from a small gay-community event to a society fixture, attracting celebrity guests from around the world.

Highlights included a Scheherazade-themed ballet, a fashion show by Italian designer Roberto Cavalli and a performance by singer Adam Lambert.  Those guests wearing costumes judged by the organizers’ “style police” to be exceptional could win half-price admission to the Vienna ball, for which tickets cost up to 3,000 euros.  The event raised over 2 million euros ($2.6 million) last year, much of it donated to the Clinton Health Access Initiative to reduce HIV infection among babies in Africa.

Africa accounts for more than two-thirds of the world’s cases of HIV, with 1.8 million new HIV infections and 1.2 million people dying of AIDS-related illnesses in 2011, according to the United Nations. ($1 = 0.7734 euros)

Report on State of Pakistan’s Children 2012 launched

Report on State of Pakistan’s Children 2012 launched

ISLAMABAD: The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child on Tuesday launched the annual report ‘The State of Pakistan’s Children 2012’.

The launch was attended by civil society representatives, government officials and media personnel. The chief guest for the occasion was Federal Minister Sania Nishtar. The report provides a systematic overview of annual developments in various sectors that are relevant to children including child rights, education, health, violence against children, administration of juvenile justice and child labour. In this regard, the report contains a number of recommendations pertinent to each sector to guide policy makers and government functionaries in effectively securing the rights of children.

The 2012 report provides a dismal account of the deteriorating state of child rights in Pakistan. Presenting the major findings, SPARC research officers Maheen Shaiq, Zohair Waheed and Hamza Hasan revealed that children in Pakistan have to cope with a lack of educational opportunities, poor health conditions, a near absence of protection for poor and vulnerable children, miserable conditions in juvenile jails and continued employment of children in hazardous occupations.

The report reveals that almost 25 million children and adolescents are out of school in Pakistan, out of which seven million (aged between three and five years) have yet to receive primary schooling.

The poor state of education in the country is evident from Pakistan’s position on the Education Development Index: Pakistan is ranked at 113 out of 120 countries on the index. With the current rate of progress, Pakistan will fail to reach the education-related MDGs by 2015. The report states that almost 225,000 annual newborn deaths are reported in Pakistan. It further highlights that the resurgence of polio and measles in different parts of the country poses new challenges to an already under-equipped health sector.

Violence against children remains culturally entrenched, as children in Pakistan have to cope with physical violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, recruitment in armed conflicts and acid attacks.

In the absence of a national database on violence against children, the report relies on secondary sources to give the prevalence of various forms of violence against children.

The report quotes Sahil’s Cruel Numbers report to reveal that there were 3,861 cases of sex abuses, reported from different parts of the country in 2012. Similarly, the report relies on Madadgaar Helpline’s national database to highlight that 5,659 cases of violence against children were reported from January to October 2012.

The report revealed that there were 12 million child labourers in Pakistan, as of 2012. The statistics were taken from international sources as Pakistan had failed to undertake a child labour survey after 1996. The report also highlighted the ineffectiveness of the current legislation on child and bonded labour and also emphasised on the lack of concrete measures towards enacting a comprehensive child-labour legislation as an outcome of the 18th Amendment.

According to the report, Pakistan lacks adequate facilities to deal with children who come in conflict with the law. The report also lamented the fact that 12 years after the promulgation of the JJSO 2000, there is ineffective implementation of the law, as children are denied bail, kept with adult prisoners and produced in fetters and handcuffs before the court.

Finally, the report urged the government to take effective steps to pass all pending legislations pertaining to children and fulfil its international commitments regarding human rights in general and child rights in particular.

Reducing malaria burden: health experts call for preventive measures

Reducing malaria burden: health experts call for preventive measures

ISLAMABAD: Health experts on Tuesday said that augmented malaria prevention and control measures were essential to reduce the burden of the disease in the country. According to them, malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes particularly in this high-risk season.

They said that the parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected anopheles mosquitoes, called malaria vectors, which bite mainly between dusk and dawn. They added that non-immune travellers from malaria-free areas are very vulnerable to the disease. Dr Wasim Khawaja of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said that parents and guardians of children needed to realise that it was their moral, ethical and religious obligation to ensure their children were protected against diseases and disability through completion of the immunisation course.

He reiterated the fullest commitment of the hospital to the cause of mother and child health and said that the hospital was making every endeavour to strengthen child immunisation programmes. He urged the media to play its vital role in motivating families and communities to avail the free vaccination services available in the hospital.

He said that malaria was an acute febrile illness, adding, in a non-immune individual, symptoms appear seven days or more, usually 10 to 15 days, after the infective mosquito bite. Dr Khawaja said that symptoms like fever, headache, chills and vomiting might be mild and difficult to recognise as malaria. “If not treated within 24 hours, malaria can progress to severe illness, often leading to death,” he added.

He said that children with severe malaria frequently develop one or more of the symptoms, like severe anaemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis, or cerebral malaria. He said that malaria epidemic could occur when climate and other conditions suddenly favour transmission in areas where people have little or no immunity to malaria.