Catching it early

By Zubeida Mustafa

55-05-06-1991

‘A’ has breast cancer. A few years ago this diagnosis would have amounted to sounding the death knell for her. Not so today. Doctors give ‘A’ an excellent prognosis, the very high rate of mortality from this disease notwithstanding.

‘A’ stands a good chance of survival because her cancer was discovered at a very early stage. In fact, when surgery was performed on her, the tumour in her breast was not even palpable — that is it could not be felt.

Now ‘A”s surgeon, Dr Shaista Khan of the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, is optimistic that the disease has been checked since it was confined to the breast cells and had not spread.

It was a mammogramme (an Xray of the breast) taken during a routine examination that showed up the malignant lesion, making diagnosis possible.

What was extraordinary about ‘A’s’ case was the overly cooperative and understanding approach of her husband, who virtually pushed her into being screened for breast cancer. “Normally not all husbands have that attitude,” says Dr Shaista Khan. Continue reading “Catching it early”

Development of human resources an elusive dream

By Zubeida Mustafa

Exactly a week before the Federal Finance Minister presented the budget before the National Assembly, the UNDP released its Human Development Report 1991 which contains extensive data on 160 countries.

Using the key indicators of life expectancy, education levels and basic purchasing power as the criteria, the agency has devised the Human Development Index. Pakistan ranked a shocking 120th on this scale. In fact Islamabad, along with some others, was strongly castigated for its gross neglect of the social sector.

What the UNDP had pointed out a week earlier was vindicated on Thursday by the federal budget. Long on rhetorics and promises of providing food, shelter, education and health care to the people, the Finance Minister’s speech was palpably short on political commitment.

56-03-06-1991b

This was further confirmed by the budget document itself. Small wonder then that in his speech Mr Sartaj Aziz deemed it wiser not to go into financial details of spendings in the health and education sectors.

In the first place, the approach adopted by the government towards the social sector is full of contradictions. By extending the strategy of privatisation and deregulation to the education and health sectors as well, the planners hope to accelerate the tempo of development. Continue reading “Development of human resources an elusive dream”

A try at self-management

By Zubeida Mustafa

HOUSE BUILDING BY LOWINCOME FAMILIES IN ORANGI by Akhter Hameed Khan. Published by Orangi Pilot Project, 1-D/ 26 Doulat House, Orangi Town, Karachi. Tel: 618628. 1990. 19 pp. Price not given.

ORANGI PILOT PROJECT MODELS by Akhter Hameed Khan. OPP, Karachi. 1990. 33pp.

A SURVEY OF ORANGI SCHOOLS. OPP, Karachi. 1990. 20 pp.

WOMEN WORK CENTRES STORY OF FIVE YEARS 1984-1989 by Akhter Hameed Khan. OPP, Karachi. 1989. 48 pp.

50-16-11-1990Eliminating poverty is one of the major challenges in all Third World countries. The conventional approach has been to get governments and social welfare agencies to assign funds and manpower to develop basic facilities for health, education and housing for lowincome families.

Needless to say this strategy has failed because of the paucity of resources and lack of involvement of the community.

In this context, the approach to development adopted by Dr Akhter Hameed Khan in Orangi — patterned after his Comilla project — is not only innovative. It has proved to be feasible and enduring. Since 1980, when the OPP was founded with the sponsorship of the BCCI, it has succeeded as a focus for self-mobilisation of the people of Orangi. Continue reading “A try at self-management”

Transplantation of kidney: Indian professor’s views

By Our Special Correspondent

KARACHI, March 23: While condemning the unethical practices associated with kidney transplantation from unrelated living donors. Prof Kirpal Singh Chugh made a fervent appeal to the medical profession to spread the message to the public for the need for cadaveric transplantation of organs.

Dr.chughHe was speaking on the “Ethics of Transplantation” at a symposium organised at a local hotel on Friday. Dr Chugh, who is the Professor of Nephrology at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India, was in Karachi to attend the Dow Medical College Annual Symposium on March 20-22. Continue reading “Transplantation of kidney: Indian professor’s views”

High population growth rate, low status of women: Perfect recipe for Demographic Disaster

By Zubeida Mustafa

44-14-07-1989Pakistan is heading for a demographic disaster. And if we need to be reminded of it,, the recently published report of the National Institute of Population Studies (NIPS) in Islamabad should serve the purpose. It very bluntly states the implications of a runaway population growth rate for the socio-economic development of the country.

The State of Population in Pakistan graphically describes the impact of a high population growth rate (2.8 – 3.1 per cent by current guesstimate) on various sectors in the last four decades. It also projects future growth at a constant rate and how it will affect the socio-economic situation in the year 2000. In mid-1987 Pakistan’s population was estimated to be 102 million. At the turn of the century it will be 150 million if it continues to grow at the rate of 2.8 per cent per annum. Continue reading “High population growth rate, low status of women: Perfect recipe for Demographic Disaster”

I was determined to live — and live normally

By Zubeida Mustafa

Dr Rukhsana Parveen is a Senior House Officer in the Nawabshah Civil Hospital. Her job in the 73- bed medical ward is considerably demanding entailing as it does six hours of morning duty every day and four emergency duties a week — twice in the afternoon and twice at night.

For 27-year-old Rukhsana, her work as a physician is most satisfying. She speaks enthusiastically about her profession, narrating animatedly her experiences with her patients. She is proud of her achievements: in the last few weeks she has cured six patients suffering, from the deadly disease Hepatitis-B. Continue reading “I was determined to live — and live normally”

Helpful donors come to the rescue

By Zubeida Mustafa

When ‘ the first kidney transplant operation was performed at the Civil Hospital, Karachi, on November 20, 1985, few expected it to be more than a rare surgical feat accomplished once in a blue moon. After all, the obstacles to be surmounted were several, the most significant being financial constraints. Could a hospital in the public sector with a limited budget, sustain a programme which cost Rs 140,000 to provide postoperative care and drugs to one patient for one year?

40-10-03-1989-AThere were other limiting factors as well. Even though the availability of surgical skill could be taken for granted, without an infrastructure of specialised nursing, extensive dialysis services and laboratory facilities, kidney transplant surgery could not be made routine. At that time arrangements did not even exist in the country for tissue matching, the first prerequisite for a transplant operation, and blood samples had to be sent abroad for this purpose.

Then there was the question of social acceptance of an idea that was quite radical for a society where life and death have a religious sanctity about them and are not. to be tampered with. Would donors be readily available and how would the people react to the concept of cadaveric donation, which has to be the ultimate endeavour of a transplant programme. Continue reading “Helpful donors come to the rescue”

Population survey: Pakistan’s poor rating

By Zubeida Mustafa

In a recent study on family planning in 95 Third World countries, the Washington-based Population Crisis Committee ranked Pakistan 43rd in availability of modern birth control methods, service related activities, information and outreach and government commitment to population in terms of budget and policy. Out of a total score of 100, Pakistan received a lowly 29 and was rated as “poor”.

It compared most unfavourably with Taiwan which scored 92 and was ranked first. In fact Pakistan was also way behind other South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh which scored 76,64 and 64 respectively. Even Nepal was better off with a rating of 30.

What emerged significantly from the survey was the close relationship between family planning programmes, the decline in fertility rate and the level of economic development. Higher decline in total fertility rate (TFR) between 1970 and 1985 occurred in countries with “excellent” scores on access to birth control. It is no coincidence that these are also countries which have recorded good progress in the economic field such as Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and China. Pakistan’s TFR fell by only 18 per cent when China’s recorded a decline of 55 per cent. The TFR in India and Bangladesh fell by 32 and 21 per cent respectively. Continue reading “Population survey: Pakistan’s poor rating”

Women power at work

By Onlooker

Ravaged by rains, overflowing sewers and digging by . civic agencies, the approach road to the Karachi Administration Society (adjacent to the PECHS) had been in a state of battered neglect for months.

No one came to attend to it when the post-monsoon road mending work was taken in hand all over the city in August.

Quite belatedly at the end of October, this heavily used stretch of road was put into good shape. Few are aware of the formidable ‘women power’. that went into its repair.

37-02-12-1988But the Councillor of the area, the KMC, the ZMC and other agencies concerned know better. They have found it impossible to ignore the forty or so women who have periodically visited their offices demanding what they insist is their right as tax-payers. They call themselves the Karachi Administration Women Welfare Society. Continue reading “Women power at work”

An unconventional calling

By Zubeida Mustafa

Way back in 1974, when Khushi Kabir first went to Vnandapur, a remote village in Sylhet, to do relief and rehabilitation work for Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), it was a new experience for her.

Previously   her work had been restricted to the village on the outs- kirts of Dhaka. Anandapur took her away from her home and family, Living among the peasants and interacting with them, Khushi developed a new approach to life. She gradually shed off her inhibitions and values imbibed from her middle class background (her father was Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Information in United Pakistan). She was soon to discover the fulfilment of working with the downtrodden.

Continue reading “An unconventional calling”