week to go
Tick, tick, tick…
People fear spread of Congo fever through tick-ridden sacrificial animals. How real is the threat?
By Tariq Iqbal
The monsoon season this year was followed by spread of dengue virus in Lahore and other districts. While the people of Lahore are yet to overcome this fear, they are confronted by another one which they think is in store for them. With the onset of Eid-ul-Azha, they are afraid of the expected spread of Congo Fever. The actual name of this disease is Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF). This fatal disease can be transmitted to human beings through ticks present on animal skin or at animal sheds.
These ticks flourish in humid weather and heavy rains. Flooding in different parts of Punjab may provide an ideal condition for growth and spread of ticks and Congo Fever. In this regard, livestock owners, animal handlers, butchers, livestock and veterinary professionals and those who have direct contact with patients are vulnerable to the disease.
While the fear is there, some quarters believe it is blown out of proportion and chances are very low that arrival of sacrificial animals in Lahore will be followed by this disease. This is considered the main reason why very few sacrificial animals are coming to the city.
To get a better picture, TNS talked to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) Prof. Dr. Muhammad Nawaz in Lahore. He tells TNS that sacrificial animals coming from different parts of the country are looked after very carefully and provided better food, so these animals are very healthy as compared to those usually arriving in bakar mandis. Therefore, there are very little chances of ticks on their body.
He says sacrificial animals get exhausted due to long travel but are good in health. So, the buyers must take care of their feed and cleanliness and keep them in airy places instead of moist and congested place. This minimises the risk of ticks sticking to them.
The VC says the Punjab government is very serious in checking the arriving animals and taking precautionary measures in this regard. It is arranging camps at designated centres throughout the province comprising professional veterinary doctors. These teams will be present at various entry points of Punjab to monitor and screen the arriving animals. "Our students will also work with these doctors and paramedical staff. This way they will provide service and learn about the disease at the same time."
Secretary, Livestock & Dairy Development (L&DD) Department, Punjab, Hamed Yaqoob Sheikh tells TNS there is no chance of Congo Virus spreading in Punjab and so far not even a single case has occurred in the whole of Punjab. He says two people died in Quetta and what they had observed was that only the people directly involved in slaughtering or operating surgery or medically treating an affected animal, are vulnerable.
For example, veterinary doctors, butchers and the paramedical staff who may get in contact with the needle of syringe administered to an affected animal. He says this virus spreads by ticks. There are two types of ticks: soft and hard and the second one is called Hayalomma Anatolica and is a carrier tick.
Hamed says an important thing is that this disease spreads in two ways. First, from the infected animals who have ticks. What happens is that a hard tick sucks the blood of an infected animal and injects it into another. Second, when the blood of an infected animal touches a person's wound in a way that its virus enter into human blood. He says it has been found that the disease is being spread by sheep coming from Balochistan.
He says during the sacrifice, the butchers should be very careful; if there is wound on their hands or foot, it should be covered. The season of ticks is from July to October but in other months they penetrate into mud. The government of Punjab has decided to keep all animals away from Ring Road, not allowing them to enter the city so far.
Teams of livestock caretakers will be present in all designated centres and perform their duties of separating the infected animals from the unaffected ones, spraying daily at places where the animals are housed. UVAS and Public Health Department are working together in two shifts from 8am-2pm and from 2pm-8pm.
He advises all the people who bring sacrificial animals to their houses to keep them at clean place, wear white clothes, wear gloves while cleaning the animals, rub neem oil, apply garlic water and deet powder on their hands.
He shares it with TNS that the government of Punjab is establishing check posts on six enterances to districts of Punjab which are Bhakkar, Mianwali, Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Raheem Yar Khan and Attock. He says L&DD has hoisted banners in all hospitals, major housing colonies and distributed 5,000 pamphlets in the city to create awareness about the disease. "We also have arranged farmer days and spray days," he adds.
L&DD Director Communication and Extension Dr. Israr Hussain Chaudhry informs TNS that Congo Fever is a disease that humans contract through animals. Therefore, L&DD has launched a special campaign to eradicate ticks from animals on special instructions from the district government. Necessary measures are being observed in the cattle markets, sacrificial mandis and sale/purchase points of sacrificial animals in all the districts.
He says L&DD will ensure that mobile veterinary teams at all these designated points provide necessary treatment and take immediate measures to avoid any spread of diseases from "actoparacides" ticks. Necessary directions regarding this issue at district level have been given to ensure the transportation of the healthy animals for the sacrificial purpose.
An animal trader in Bakar Mandi Lahore, Muhammad Mubeen, tells TNS that till now no sacrificial animal has arrived in the mandi but they would start coming by 26th of this month. Once the animal holders and traders bring sacrificial animals, the position will become clearer. He says last year, when mandi was set up at Expo Center, not only animal traders but buyers too faced many problems as there were no proper arrangement of food and water. Animal feed was particularly expensive as compared to in Bakar Mandi last year.
He says due to these inconveniences, about 80 per cent animal traders came back to Bakar Mandi. They complained of loss worth Rs 10 to 12 thousands per head.
Spokesman of District Coordination Officer (DCO), Lahore, tells TNS that the government of Punjab has decided to designate seven proposed sites in the city. These are along Jaranwala Road, across Ring Road opposite China Scheme, Quaid-e-Azam Interchange, Burki Road, Klass Wahri near Kahna Ferozpur Road, LDA Avenue-1, Shahpur Kanjran, Multan Road.
Speokesman for DCO Office Tariq Zaman Khan says at all these centres, the government is providing facilities like installation of tents and toilets, provision of clean drinking water, lights, electricity, generators, establishment of canteens and site office, installation of directional boards, barbed wire, walk through gates, complaint cells and so on.
He says containers will be placed at proper spots and water will be sprinkled to keep dust under control. Police/Mujahid Force will be deputed at Babu Sabu and Saggian to check illegal entry of animals and for removal of sacrificial animals from places other than the designated ones.
The spokesman says citizens should inform the district government about the names of all those persons who forcefully establish or try to establish mandis. From October 25 the government plans to run 14 buses on daily basis to take animals in Lahore to the designated sale centres established outside the city precincts.
“How can you contrive to write so even?” is how Miss Bingley addresses Darcy in the classic novel, Pride and Prejudice.
Clearly, times were different then. Jane Austen penned down all the words, ink on paper. The manuscript of her novel Persuasion came out after her death, and the fact that it’s published today makes one thing clear: Austen’s handwriting was legible enough for publishers to make out.
Our lives are easier today, for words typed on a computer are hardly ever difficult to understand, except when you decide to use too fancy a font. But despite the two centuries that have passed, handwriting, if less common, is nowhere near obsolete. The jokes of doctors’ prescriptions illegibility still abound, and they, at least in my experience, are spot on. Both my parents are doctors, and boy, ask me about the challenges of an illegible handwriting. When I was younger and still had a childish hand, my mother would say, ‘It’s like mine, and I have so much trouble, for having to request others to write for me is a handicap.’ I dismissed her concern, for I couldn’t understand what she wrote, while my letters seemed clear enough to me! And lo and behold, 11 years later, I asked a friend to copy out my work for me, in exchange of me helping her with some sentences.
That day hurt.
But I’m lucky, for I still have the hope of a world where typed words are everything. It’s not just wishful thinking. After all, there are so many amazing options out there that no one can complain of it being boring! You can change fonts, sizes, colours, character spacing and even character positions way more easily than those cursive and handwriting practice books out there…..Trust me, I’ve tried.
Messy handwriting can’t be helped. At least, that’s the way it feels to me. I studied how my hand moves. It is quick and you can say flows… OK, if I am not to mince words, it’s a scribble, especially when I know that only I have to read it. Now, I hate the word ‘scribble’. It reminds me of a three year old holding a pencil to the wall. But, despite that mental image, I just do not have the patience to slow down. Even when I do, the words form slowly, but they form in exactly the same way! Talk about a time-waster….So here I am contemplating the end of handwriting, looking down at my scrawl.
A polite person who doesn’t know what it is supposed to be might call it a piece of art. Ah well, who am I kidding? A piece of art from me? Some artists throw paint and it looks great. I throw paint and it looks – thrown. Hard luck then that I scribble and it looks scribbled. The sole consolation I have is an award for Arts I got in kindergarten. The time when scribbles were appreciated, for you knew how to hold a pencil… Hmmm, nevertheless, I’ll laminate the certificate and hang it in my room.
Honestly, it’s not the handwriting I have a problem with. I don’t understand it myself sometimes, so I definitely am not blaming the poor soul who can’t either. It’s the shortcut we have created that bothers me: the first impression is the last impression. Now assuming that what you’ve written is going to be wrong or is not worth reading because of your untidy scrawl is a first impression. And stubbornly retaining it as the last impression due to the afore-mentioned scrawl is misleading and unfair. We’ve all got to stop resorting to convenient shortcuts. It’s discouraging when I clearly can’t help it, after the uncountable handwriting practice books. And this is where the amazing part comes: we are using technology to eradicate shortcuts…
HomeNet Pakistan is organising
a Handicrafts Exhibtion on
Oct 27 at Hotel Ambassador on
Davis Road in solidarity with homebased workers and
South Asian countries, commemorating South Asian Home-Based Workers (HBW) Day.
Weekend Cycle Ride today at 10:30am.
Starting point: Zakir Tikka Restaurant,
Sarwar Road, Lahore Cantt.
Children’s Festival and bookfair at
today from 10am-8pm till Oct 31.
Drama Festival till Oct 24 at
Alhamra Arts Council, The Mall.
Exhibition of Paintings by Iqbal Hussain
at Ejaz Galleries till Oct 28.
Gallery timings: 5pm-9pm.
The previous week was full of activity in the city’s areas housing Pakistan Railways facilities and its employees struggling to get their salaries. The employees of Railways’ workshop division were the most active who organised protest after protest to register their grievances.
The road leading to Railways’ carriage workshop was blocked repeatedly which resulted in inconvenience to a large number of commuters. The worst was yet to come. On Tuesday, these employees took over the engine shed in the morning and ensured no train could leave for its destination. Those already on the move had to come to a standstill as well.
The situation improved with the announcement coming from the top management to clear employees’ dues and strikes were called off. However, an interaction with employees and union leaders revealed non-payment of salaries was just one issue and lot more needed to be done to pacify them.
Goga, a Railways employee who wants to be identified by his nickname, tells TNS that they are more worried about the situation at the workshop. “We are definitely concerned about our salaries but are more concerned about our future. We want revival of Railways so that we continue to earn our livelihood.”
Goga says thousands of employees reach Railways workshop every morning around 6.30 am and stay there till 4 pm but do nothing. The management does not even provide them tools to repair the engines and wagons, he says, adding this hints at the fact that the government is bent upon shutting down Pakistan Railways. He says they have been getting salaries without work for quite long but it seems this free ride will end soon. The only blessing for them, he says, is that they are able to do a second job to supplement their income after 4 pm.
Goga fears Railways will not be able to recover in the presence of its Federal Minister Ghulam Muhammad Bilour, who happens to own a road transport business. “How can one harm one’s own business by strengthening a competitor,” he questions.
Labour Party Pakistan Spokesman Farooq Tariq tells TNS that non-payment of salaries is a huge issue for employees of Pakistan Railways. They aren’t paid like employees of PIA and literally have no savings, he says adding, “In fact they are the lowest paid in the public sector.” Holding back their salaries means intentionally pushing their children to starvation.
Farooq says a large number of Railways employees are on contract. The government has made repeated promises to confirm them but has failed to deliver on this count. He says if National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) can confirm all its contractual employees then why not Pakistan Railways. Besides, the fear of retrenchment exists among both the regular and contractual employees. These employees should be given assurances and a sense of security without delay, he asserts.
A Pakistan Railways spokesman tells TNS that the organisation is passing through one of its most crucial phases. As it has touched the rock bottom, we hope it would rebound and would soon be on the road to recovery. He says the delay in payment of salaries is also related to this downturn and will be a thing of the past once the recovery plan takes off. The organisation knows the problems of its valuable workforce and has made arrangements to pay salaries to all before Eid-ul-Azha.
He says the workers should not worry at all and stop drawing inferences from isolated events. “Delay in payment of one month’s salaries does not mean end of a multi-billion organisation.”
The spokesman says there is immense financial burden on Pakistan Railways which pays around Rs 10 billion per annum under the head of pension to its ex-employees. In fact, he says, payment of pension is a liability of the federal government. The organisation will be much relieved if the federal government agrees to pay pension to these employees as well.
He tells TNS there are no plans to retrench people. The plan, he says, is to abolish unnecessary posts in the department and not to recruit new people on them once the incumbents are promoted.
week to go
Book-reading is losing its charm due to increasing use of internet and audio-visual aids, including pirated CDs of branded books.
Books are a tangible valuable record of our world. Sure we have the internet or computers with vast amount of information stored in them but all of history isn’t in a computer. History, the stories of civilisations and ancient languages forgotten, are somewhere in a book. Books are there, so we can learn, imagine and sometimes escape from the world around us. There is nothing like sitting down with a new book. Books are something that can take us away from the cares of this world for awhile at least. They are an inspiration and encouragement to us. When we cannot travel geographically, we travel mentally through books. As Ameena Syed of OUP recently said at the announcement of Children Festival to open on Nov 26, “Book is like an airplane, a time machine on which we visit different places, people and times. The best way to learn a language is through reading.”
A book fair is going on under the auspices of Oxford University Press till October 31 at Oxford bookshops in various cities. The book fair offers special discount on a wide range of books and is of great interest to book-lovers, book-sellers, librarians, professionals, students and teachers from schools and colleges.
It features a diverse selection of books, including locally published and imported books on English language, teaching material, education, academic research references, international affairs, politics, history and literature. In addition, biographies and memoirs of prominent personalities from Pakistan are also available at the fair.
A wide range of Urdu publications, including Alif Laila, Majmua-e-Mirza and the poems of legendary poets Hali, Faiz, Mir Anees and Josh Malihabadi, are available at an affordable price.
A special section containing books on general knowledge, mind mazes, arts, fiction and novels has been reserved for children. The main element of attraction was discount which was given on the books exhibited in the book fair. Normally the discount is 10 per cent. The discount on general books is 25 per cent while there is 20 per cent discount on imported books. The ever-popular range of Oxford Hallmark English and bi-lingual dictionaries and thesauruses are also available at 30 per cent discount.
OUP Regional Sales Director Tariq Haq tells The News on Sunday (TNS) that the objective of the book fair is to provide an opportunity to people to buy a variety of books at affordable prices. “It will give children an opportunity to find books of their interest. The goal is to encourage them to enjoy reading for the sake of knowledge and make them proficient readers,” he says.
He informed that usually 30,000-40,000 books are sold during the annual book fair, which lasts for one month. “We are holding the book fair for the last several years. Books for children, especially primary level, are available in the fair for the last three years.”
Eight-year-old Zaina, a student of Beaconhouse School System, says that she likes action novels. “My favourite novel is ‘The Giver’, but I cannot find it. However, there are several books of my choice here,” she states.
Seven-year-old Safa and 14-year-old Abdullah expressed their interest in novels like Harry Potter series and writer RL Stevenson. There was one book Goosebumps that he mentioned. “Surprisingly, books which are liked by students the most are not available in the fair,” says Sara, who was at the fair with her two children. She was of the view that internet leaves children with little time for books. “My children spend most of their time playing games on computer and surfing the facebook,” she adds.
One Mrs Durrani who was also there at the fair, says she wants her kids to actively participate in curricular and extra-curricular activities. “I have brought my daughter here to select books of her interest.”
Zahida Usmani, a principal at a private school is of the view that the OUP administration should display books for children on Islam, history and current issues. She adds that more and more book fairs should be arranged to develop reading habit among children.
Oxford team should pay more attention to the publicity of the fair to attract more book lovers. We did not come across many people at the fair where we stayed for a good number of hours.
By Afshan Durrani, Ruqiya Kausar, Nazish Amna and Huda Saqib