Friday, September 25, 2009

Official says no swine flu case reported in Pukhtunkhwa( NWFP )

PESHAWAR: The NWFP Health Department said Friday that no case of the Swine flu had been reported anywhere from the province, however, all precautionary measures had been taken to cope with the situation.

“Though no such case has been reported in the province, keeping in view the epidemic nature of the disease, the Health Department has taken a number of steps to combat any such situation,” said Dr Ziaul Hasnain, deputy director public health, while talking to The News.

Dr Hasnain, who is also the secretary for provincial task force, said that the department had established quarantine at Peshawar Airport where qualified staff had also been deputed to scan the passengers for the symptoms of the disease and by getting a questioner filled out by him/her.

The doctor said that anti-viral medicines had also been acquired by the department and would be distributed to the districts if needed. He said that 270,000 capsules had been received and the quantity was sufficient for more than 25,000 patients.

To treat the patients affected by swine flu virus, the department had also established 14 sentinel sites across the province where all facilities including isolation centres had also been established, he added.

Dr Hasnain said that a letter had also been issued to all the executive district officers (health) to nominate a focal person for the district task force. He said the focal person for three tertiary care hospitals including Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) and Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) had already been announced.

About the installation of thermal camera at the Peshawar Airport, Dr Hasnain said the camera was quite costly and presently it had been installed only at Karachi International Airport. The provincial government would, however, try to install the camera before the arrival of Haj flights, he added.

A provincial reference laboratory has also been established at HMC where qualified staff would be made available, he said, adding that information about precautionary measures to avoid swine flu had also been sent to all the health outlets in the province.

The official said though the disease was contagious, if proper precautionary measures were taken it could be warded off. He said the common symptoms of the swine flu were cough, temperature, throat infection, body aches, problem with breathing and tiredness. The patient infected with the virus may suffer from dysentery.

Thousands Hold Peaceful March at G-20 Summit

PITTSBURGH — Several thousand demonstrators espousing and denouncing a host of causes converged on downtown Pittsburgh on Friday, chanting, pumping up signs and playing instruments in a peaceful and permitted march calling for solutions to a range of problems that they attributed to the economic policies of the world leaders at the Group of 20 meeting.

Protesters with Iraq Veterans Against the War, wearing fatigues, marched alongside Tibetans chiming cymbals, chanting denunciations of China and waving signs, like one that read “G20 Let’s Talk Tibet.” Another group, Students for Justice in Palestine, assembled on Forbes Avenue and called for an end to “the Israeli occupation.” Others held up signs like “We Say No To Corporate Greed,” and “We say yes to human needs.”

One group held aloft with bamboo poles a giant replica of a dove made of white fabric. A marching band with a French horn, several snare drums and a trombone played amid a sea of black, American and Palestinian flags.

The People’s March, as it was called, was sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center, a Pittsburgh peace organization. It came a day after raucous confrontations between the police and protesters resulted in 66 arrests. At least five people needed medical attention, and about 19 businesses sustained broken windows or other damage.

Observers put Friday’s crowd at 3,000 to 4,000. As demonstrators arrived at the intersection of Grant Street and Forbes Avenue, speakers urged them to fight for a broad array of social issues that they felt had been largely ignored by leaders making global economic policy.

“We need to show the world that G-20 is not welcome in Pittsburgh,” Pete Shell, the director of the Merton center’s antiwar committee, said from the steps of the city-county building, just blocks from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, where the G-20 meeting was under way.

It was as close as the protesters were able to get to the meeting of world leaders.

“The city has rolled out the red carpet for them,” Mr. Shell said. “But we need to show them that you are the ones we welcome.”

Nathan Smith, 31, a wine seller from Williamsport, Pa., said he drove three hours to attend the rally. “We need good jobs and good health care, and the G-20 isn’t helping that,” said Mr. Smith, who was carrying a sign that said “Capitalism Kills.” “Their policies are undermining jobs and health care.”

A member of the local chapter of Code Pink, a women’s antiwar group, led a protest against the continued presence of American troops in Afghanistan and of Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip.

Rows of stern-faced police officers looked on from the sidewalk, keeping close watch on a group of more than 400 self-described anarchists clad in black.

Before long, singers from the Raging Grannies and workers from the United Steelworkers of America took the stage to talk about the need for jobs.

After more than an hour of speeches, the crowd began to disperse, some wondering aloud whether their messages would be heard by the G-20 leaders.

Cory Perrotte, 20, a student from Duquesne University, was optimistic that it would be difficult for world leaders to ignore thousands in the street.

“They will listen to a certain degree,” he said. “They might not necessarily do anything.”

Peshawar’s historic Wazir Bagh in dire need of attention

PESHAWAR: Peshawar’s historic Wazir Bagh was constructed by one of the Durrani overlords of Peshawar, Sardar Fatteh Mohammad Khan Wazir, in 1802-03. It was one of the most beautiful gardens of the city and according to old accounts, was full of apricots, peaches, pomegranates, pears and colourful flowers, while English envoy Sir Alexander Burnes rested in the garden during his trip to Kabul in 1832.

The park has been in ruins for the past several years and the authorities have shown interest only in allotting pieces of land for construction of schools, colleges, stadiums and other buildings while the park, which spreads over a very large area, has shrunk to small enclosures where only dust and wilderness catches one’s attention.

The garden that consisted of four enclosures or open plots, has been completely denuded of greenery and turned into playgrounds, while the flower beds have also disappeared with the passage of time, insensible use and lack of interest on the part of the authorities.

The flower beds have been badly damaged, while the pavement in the middle of the park is being used as a shortcut road by the area residents.

The two oblong cisterns in the middle of the garden are not used any longer. The northern one is full of filthy water and shopping bags, while the southern one with a fountain lies open like a gaping hole in the middle of the park.

The park has 12 gardeners; however, in the absence of any institutional and financial support, they have become unable to deliver while at the same time their hard work goes down the drain as hundreds of unruly boys from the nearby areas, schools and colleges storm the park for playing and plunder the flower beds and what has been left of greenery.

Some years back, the authorities converted one of the four enclosures in the park into a football ground and erected a huge wall tipped with barbed wire around the newly constructed ground, defacing the original plan of the park.

A gardener told Daily Times that the park lacks a tube well and despite repeated requests to the authorities, one is still to be approved for the park.

Similarly, the gardeners also complained that they do not get salaries on time since the introduction of local government system in the country in 2002; prior to this they had not faced any such problem.

When the gardeners tried to place a chain at the main gate of the park to stop the motorcycles’ entry that has become common for those learning to ride motorcycles, the area nazim removed the chain and now it lies open for all.

There is no lighting in the park and it becomes pitch dark with approach of dusk. It also lacks toilets, benches, water and other facilities. The authorities have so far not shown any interest in upgrading the park’s infrastructure, rather its situation is worsening with each passing day.