Decorating Homes Tastefully (Thinking Out of the Box)

Written By: Maria Khalid

decorating homes1We often marvel at how the architecture and design together create an amazing landscape of a house. Every small element always relates to the larger form where they coexist. Although good sense of design existed in every age and culture but it transmutes into something more modern as the time progresses. We long for beauty and elegance along with utility and practicality of anything in question all our life. Aesthetics and interior designing go hand in hand. The beautification of space and optimal utilization to me is the inbuilt human capability. Beautiful things develop from a tiny bud and mature into prime beauty. We as humans want to save the essence of this prime beauty into designing and that brings the masterpiece out, something class apart that is to be cherished by the human race generation after generation. In economics we start everything from consumer behaviour. It is that one aspect of humans that sets everything in line from what to produce and what not to. While choices of customers and emerging trends are reflected by what is available in the furniture showrooms; the designers also tend to keep the customers in mind. Muhammad Ali Riaz, the owner of a decorating homes2private furniture shop in Rawalpindi, while commenting on the latest trends said, “Interior decoration can augment the ambiance of your home. With a little modification in interiors, you can not only revive the surroundings, but give your space an engaging or attractive glance. But making such amusing changes is not as simple as you think it is.” He goes on to say, “What our clients demand is comfort, furniture being economical and third, durable. Besides, many people are looking for bright colours instead of dull earthly ones. Furniture, colour scheme, flooring, wall and window treatments may differ from room to room. High gloss finishing is in high demand these days.” We should rather use the word comfortable luxury for what people desire nowadays but furniture is one part. What matters more in interior designing and architecture is space utilization, ample supply of natural air and cross ventilation coupled with exclusive looks. The interior designing industry for residence is growing at a slow pace in Pakistan. If you search for the designers in America, many would emerge depending on the work they have done and the accolades they got. However there isn't enough recognition in Pakistan owing to the fact that there aren't many customers because of the poor economic condition of the common people. Mr. Kazim Hassan, the CEO of a private interior designing consultancy says, “Now there is a trend of designer houses in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, where customers want turnkey solutions from purchase of land, construction, and interior design to furniture, accessories and landscaping. Mostly clients living abroad want such type of packages in Pakistan.” “The interior design services are normally considered for the privileged class but when a person spends even for a small house, it should be spent properly. Just like if you take medicine at your own without consulting a doctor, it will damage your health.” He added. Although interior designing is considered to be a complete art, however following can be helpful in giving your home a touch of class:-

Design should be in harmony with the surroundings, the environment you live in and the temperature. However, adding a

little sense of space using sliding screens and transparent doors can do wonders.

Painting walls or adding wallpapers defines the space and makes a great background to showcase art and lamps.

Use different textures while keeping a balance.

Dramatic lighting looks elegant such as tray ceilings and a huge chandelier in the centre.

You can make best use of pictures and photos. Bring life to the walls by putting one or many gilded frames together on a colour painted wall, same or varying sizes depending upon your taste.

If you don't have taste of photographs, calligraphy also looks amazing on the walls.

For fall 2014, go cozy with rugs and plush cushions, preferably floral, chintz or ethnic. You can also try out well-designed upholstered furniture.

The warm and cool colour palettes will add to the beauty.


Secret to Staying Young and Healthy

Written By: Dr. Anum Hussain

How do you define beauty? If you ask this simple question from different age groups you may get a diverse response. For example, a teen’s reply would be different from a 25-years-old adult. Their answers will be based on a certain defined criteria set in their minds, for instance; skin tone, height, and hair, whilst others would decide based on different factors of persona like self-belief, speaking style, dressing sense, etc. but this isn't the end; additionally you may receive responses like beauty is directly proportional to age. According to them, if he/she crosses certain line of age then they aren't eligible to be called beautiful and sadly majority of the crowd would assume this false belief as a universal criteria. Now you must be thinking a doctor would provide you a catalogue of anti-aging treatments like botox, rehydrating fillers, meso-therapy, photo-facials, non-surgical facelifts and a never ending list of treatments. Being a doctor I clearly admire the outstanding progress in medical and health science. Allow me discuss some vital facets that are normally neglected in the process of achieving beauty targets or simply looking young.

Take a deep breath and accept the fact that aging is a natural process and there's no direct or inverse relation between age and beauty, Why? Because the former is simply a number and latter is a mixture of mind and personality. This growing old process affects every single cell of your body including all your internal and external organs. In general skin is the largest external organ of human body and usually this organ is our main concern. With advancing age skin becomes fragile, bruised, tough, and slack due to thinning of dermis and loss of support around the blood vessels. So in case you are thinking about the usage of anti-aging creams or are in search of anti-aging treatments and you think it is going to make you younger then please take a moment here and think about those billions or trillions body cells that make your other vital organs like heart, kidneys, liver, muscular tissues, and bones, etc. They are also growing old. Don’t they need anti-aging treatment too? Now you need to understand this phenomenon just like you are worrying about your nasolabial fold lines, crow feet, sagging cheeks or wrinkles etc., you should pay equal attention to your whole body because this aging process is targeting it all.

It is very crucial to maintain weight according to BMI because a lot of health conditions are directly associated with weight gain and it can be a major cause of the underlying conditions. In the process of growing old, it becomes difficult to get rid of excess weight as your muscle tissues certainly shrink and lose mass. Your ligaments and tendons might also end up inflexible with age and may lose tone, even with everyday exercise. You could have constrained strength and endurance required for exercise. Hormonal changes in older women and men may contribute to muscle loss. This gradual decline in musculoskeletal system directly affects your activities of daily living (ADLs) and limit your physical activities, which in turn causes slowdown of your metabolism and ultimately leads to unburned calories that are likely to become fat deposits. The fat deposits further deteriorate your another major body system i.e., cardiovascular system. With advancing age, blood vessels also undergo aging process including arterial stiffening and thickening. These structural changes play important part in developing hypertension (high blood pressure). The fats already stored in the body due to limited physical activity build up inside the arteries. This accumulation of fat is known as atherosclerosis. It speeds up the process of aging in arteries leading to further fatty buildup and narrowing which may result in blocking major arteries that supply blood to heart and brain and the results could be devastating i.e., heart attack or stroke. Now you can clearly see all body systems are interconnected and problem in one directly affects another. But it is not very difficult to overcome these age related issues – all you need is a little attention and time for your body.


Growing older is no regret but dying before one’s actual death is. There is no rewind button in life, so value the time you have and value the gift of life. Avoid negativity and add positivity. Don’t limit yourself under the label of age to live a purposeful and healthy life.

First of all, it is important to monitor your weight on regular basis. If you notice any fluctuation you can take measures. I mentioned earlier that as you are growing old you lose muscle mass so add proper amount of protein in your diet plan e.g., meat, poultry, fish, salmon, trout (contains heart healthy omega 3 fats), eggs, beans and nuts etc. Also your bone health is important for maintaining your overall musculoskeletal system so dairy food with calcium and vitamin D must be a portion of your diet plan.

It is important to maintain recommended cholesterol levels to avoid fatty buildup in blood vessels. Total cholesterol level (lower than 200mg/dl) LDL i.e., low density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol (100mg/dl or low) HDL i.e., high density lipoprotein or good cholesterol (40mg/dl or high) and triglycerides (149mg/dl or low). Like protein we also need fats for our body but this is mandatory to choose right fat or heart healthy fat. Saturated fat or animal fat raises cholesterol level so strictly avoid butter, cream or cream based sauces, hard margarine fats on meat, processed meat like sausages, burgers, cake, chocolates, heavy cream, milk etc. Monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, peanut oil, unsalted peanuts, cashew nuts and almond help replace saturated fats with monounsaturated fats and protect your heart as it lowers cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fat also reduces cholesterol level and is found in oily fish (omega 3 fat), sunflower oil (omega 6 fat), sesame oil, walnuts and hazelnut. But you must always keep in mind that all these types of fats, either saturated or unsaturated, contain equal amount of fat and calories so it is essential to avoid their excessive use. It is better to go for small meals rather than heavy meals because your metabolism slows down as you age but never go much longer than 3 hours without eating.

Hydration is important as nearly all of your systems in body depend on water. Moreover, this is a tip for anyone who wants to lose weight. With advancing age, the hypothalamus (which controls our hunger and thirst) becomes desensitized and our body can easily mistake thirst for hunger, which causes us to eat more than we actually need. Dehydration leads to high cholesterol, (produces more cholesterol to prevent water loss from cell), high blood pressure (because blood becomes thicker causing resistance to blood flow in arteries), constipation, tiredness, fatigue and weight gain. So, drink plenty of water (best is about 8 glass/day). You can also compensate by eating hydrating food i.e., cucumber, watermelon, bell pepper, pineapple, carrots, apple, grapefruit etc.

Balance food intake with proper physical activity. If you think skipping above mentioned dietary ingredients or in other words “starvation” will prevent the side effect of accumulation in the body, you are totally wrong because on one side your body needs all the above nutrients to keep your body systems young and healthy and on the other side your body also needs to utilize these calories in the form of physical activity. Make your schedule and assign one hour of the day for physical activity. It can include mild fitness programs like walking at medium pace, or swimming to strength training programs. My recommendation is to choose the activity according to your body needs e.g., if your task is weight loss at 35 or 45 you can freely engage in heavy exercises but if you are above 60 you must keep in mind that now your bones have lost much calcium and muscle mass. Moreover, if you are having any comorbid condition (hypertension, coronary artery disease etc.), you should prefer modified plan according to your body demand; better if it is under the supervision of a trainer. Don’t skip this portion because physical activity has direct effect on all of your body systems, so picking the best one according to your body demand will be beneficial. Set some goals and tasks before starting any fitness program.

Alcohol and smoking are the root cause of many medical conditions ranging from mild to life threatening conditions. They not only cause serious damage to respiratory system but also adversely affect our other body systems including circulatory, immune and reproductive systems. If you are a smoker or alcoholic, you have two choices: either arrange your bills for a long stay in hospital or simply quit this habit.

Just like your physical health is important, your mental wellbeing should also be part of your goals. Whatever your age is, value yourself and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies even if you find time once in a week. Communicate with good and ambitious people because your company has an effect on your lifestyle and your goals. Meeting with positive people will have a positive effect. Good company will not only motivate you but also boost your energy for your tasks. Break monotony and try new things or modify your existing activities like change your walking track, meet new people or add some recreational trips even if it is only once in a month. Stress is a part of life, whatever the age is, it can strike you anywhere, anytime, the important thing is to know how to cope with it. Check out triggers for your stress and how you react. It can help you to avoid triggers and learn how to manage them. Avoid overthinking because nothing is permanent, whatever the reason of your stress. Always keep in mind that everything will get better although it can take some time. The best approach in adverse situations is to avoid taking stress that will ultimately lead to anxiety and depression, further deteriorating your physical health. Try to think positive because “problem isn’t a problem until the mind says it’s a problem”

Growing older is no regret but dying before one’s actual death is. There is no rewind button in life, so value the time you have and value the gift of life. Avoid negativity and add positivity. Don’t limit yourself under the label of age to live a purposeful and healthy life.


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تحریر: محمد امجد چوہدری

طلباء و طلبات کو شدت پسندوں کے ہتھکنڈوں سے آگاہ رکھنے کی ضرورت

درسگاہیں اور علم گاہیں کسی معاشرے کو باشعور، منظم اور مہذب بنانے میں ناگزیر حیثیت رکھتی ہیں۔ قوموں کی اجتماعی ترقی اور خوشحالی میں ان کا کردار کلیدی ہوتا ہے۔ جامعہ کراچی کا شمار پاکستان کے ان اداروں میں ہوتا ہے جنہوں نے صحیح معنوں میں معمار قوم کا کردار ادا کیا اورآج بھی جدید تقاضوں کے مطابق نوجوانان وطن کو زیورِ تعلیم سے آراستہ کرنے میں پیش پیش ہے۔ بارہ سو ایکٹر رقبے پر مشتمل اس یونیورسٹی کا قیام1951ء میں عمل میں لایا گیا ۔صرف دو شعبوں سے تدریسی اور تحقیقی کام کا آغاز کرنے والی یہ جامعہ آج سائنس اور آرٹس کے53 مختلف شعبوں اور عالمی طرز کے20جدیدترین تحقیقاتی سنٹر ز اور انسٹی ٹیوٹس پر مشتمل ہے جہاں 24ہزار سے زائد طلباء و طالبات 800سے زائد قابل اساتذہ اوردرس و تدریس کے اڑھائی ہزارسٹاف کی زیرنگرانی اپنی علمی و تحقیقی پیاس بجھا رہے ہیں۔اس میں کوئی شک نہیں کہ تدریسی وتحقیقی معیار میں جامعہ کراچی کو بین الاقوامی شہرت حاصل ہے۔اس کے فارغ التحصیل طلباء قومی و بین الاقوامی سطح پر اپنی صلاحیتوں کا لوہا منوارہے ہیں۔ جامعہ کراچی کی ترقی اور ارتقاء کے عمل میں اس کے دُوراندیش اساتذہ کی محنت و قابلیت اور انتظامیہ کی کوششوں کا کلیدی کردار رہا ہے۔ یہ سچ ہے کہ تعلیمی ادارے علم وعمل اور آگہی و شعور کے مرکز ہوتے ہیں، اسی لئے تو ملک دشمن عناصر کا اولین نشانہ بھی یہی ہوتے ہیں۔پاکستان گزشتہ دو دہائیوں سے دہشت گردی کے خلاف جنگ لڑ رہا ہے۔ پاکستان کی ہر وہ شے جو ہمارے وقار، ترقی اورروشن مستقبل کی علامت سمجھی جاتی ہے، دہشت گردوں کے نشانے پر رہی۔ کراچی سے خیبر تک انہوں نے معصوم شہریوں اور سیکورٹی اداروں پر حملے کئے۔ تعلیمی ادارے خاص طور پر ان کی ہٹ لسٹ پر تھے۔ وہ نہ صرف انہیں نشانہ بنا رہے تھے بلکہ مختلف ہتھکنڈوں کے ذریعے نوجوانوں کے ذہنوں کو پراگندہ کرنے میں بھی مصروف عمل تھے۔اسی بھنور میں جامعہ کراچی کو بھی دھکیلنے کی کوشش کی گئی۔ ایک سوچی سمجھی سازش کے تحت یہاں بھی شدت پسندی، بدامنی اور بے یقینی کے بیج بونے کی کوشش کی گئی تاہم طلباء و طالبات کی ہوشمندی، اساتذہ کی مستعدی، انتظامیہ کے تعاون اور سکیورٹی فورسز کی کڑی نگرانی کی وجہ سے ایسا ممکن نہ ہوسکا۔ خاص طور پر یونیورسٹی کے وائس چانسلر پروفیسر ڈاکٹر محمد اجمل خان (ستارہ امتیاز) یہاں کے بہت سے مسائل جن میں انتظامی اور مالی قابل ذکر ہیں، حل کرنے میں انتہائی اہم کردار اداکررہے ہیں۔وہ نباتات کے استاد ہیں اور یونیورسٹی کو سرسبزوشاداب اور پھلتا پھولتا دیکھنے کی متمنی ہیں۔ اسی لئے بعض معاملات خاص طور پر فنڈنگ اور مالی خسارے کے لحاظ سے تشویش میں مبتلا ہیں۔ ان کا کہنا ہے کہ تعلیمی و تحقیقی میدان میں انقلاب برپا کرسکتے ہیں مگر شدید مالی مسائل ہماری رہ میں رکاوٹ بنے ہوئے ہیں۔ ان کا کہنا تھا کہ اگر کراچی یونیورسٹی کو اتنی رقم دی جائے جتنی کہ ایک عام یونیورسٹی کو فراہم کی جاتی ہے تو پچیس سال میں انقلابی تبدیلی لاسکتے ہیں۔ جس طرح دنیا کے مختلف ممالک میں ترقی اور علوم میں تبدیلی و جدت آرہی ہے، ہم بھی اپنے ملک کو اس سے ہمکنار کر سکتے ہیں ۔یہ تبھی ممکن ہے جب ہمیں اپنا کردار ادا کرنے کا موقع دیا جائے گا۔ان کا کہنا تھا کہ کراچی کی مجموعی سکیورٹی صورتحال کا اثر کراچی یونیورسٹی پر بھی پڑتا ہے۔ جب ہمیں کھل کر بات کرنے کی اجازت ہوگی، جب ہمیں پروفیشنل بحث و مباحثے کی اجازت ہوگی، جب ہمیں پیشہ ورانہ مضامین میں تحقیق کرنے کے لئے مالی آزادی ہوگی، توہم پاکستان کی معیشت کو مضبوط اور کامیاب بنانے میں بڑا کردار ادا کرسکتے ہیں۔ اس تناظر میں کراچی یونیورسٹی پر سرمایہ کاری دراصل پاکستان پر سرمایہ کاری ہے۔ یونیورسٹی کی سکیورٹی کے حوالے سے بھی پروفیسرڈاکٹر محمد اجمل خان نے بہت سے اقدامات اٹھائے ہیں۔ وہ اس حوالے سے رینجرزکے کردار کے معترف ہیں۔ان کا کہنا ہے کراچی یونیورسٹی آپریشن ردالفساد کا ایک
Main Component
ہے۔ یہاں جو چند لوگ فساد کرکے اس کی ساکھ کو نقصان پہنچا رہے ہیں، ان سے نجات ضروری ہے اور اس سلسلے میں رینجرز اپنا مؤثر کردار ادا کررہے ہیں۔ وہ جامعہ کو سکیورٹی فراہم کرنے کے ساتھ ساتھ مشکوک افراد پر بھی کڑی نظر رکھے ہوئے ہیں ۔ اس طرح ان تمام مجموعی کوششوں سے جامعہ کراچی کو شدت پسندی کا لیبل لگا کر اس کی ساکھ کو متاثر کرنے کی تمام کوششیں ناکام ہوگئیں۔ تاہم اس حقیقت کو بھی نظرانداز نہیں کرنا چاہئے کہ دہشت گرد عناصر ہماری کمزوریوں کی تاک میں ہیں۔ وہ پاکستان کے مستقبل کو تاریک کرنے کا موقع ہرگز ضائع نہیں کرتے۔ اس لئے ضرورت اس امر کی ہے کہ اس حوالے سے نوجوانوں کے شعور میں مسلسل اضافہ کیا جاتا رہے۔ پاک فوج دہشت گردوں سے براہ راست نبردآزما ہونے کے ساتھ ساتھ اس سلسلے میں بھی بہت سے اقدامات اٹھارہی ہے۔


گزشتہ دنوں جنرل ہیڈکوارٹرز میں ''شدت پسندی کو مسترد کرنے میں نوجوانوں کے کردار'' کے موضوع پر ایک سیمینار بھی منعقد کیا گیا جس میں پاکستان بھر کی یونیورسٹیوں کے وائس چانسلرز، اساتذہ اور طلباء نے شرکت کی۔اس موقع پر چیف آف آرمی سٹاف جنرل قمر جاوید باجوہ کا کہنا تھا کہ دہشت گردی کو شکست دی جاچکی، شدت پسندی کو شکست دینے کے لئے ہمارے تعلیمی ادارے اور میڈیا معاشرے کی پہلی دفاعی لائن ہیں۔ ہم باہمی تعاون سے نوجوانوں کے ذہنوں کو پراگندہ کرنے والی قوتوں کو شکست دیں گے۔ ڈی جی آئی ایس پی آر میجر جنرل آصف غفور نے بھی گزشتہ دنوں جامعہ کراچی کا دورہ کیا اور طلباء سے خطاب بھی کیا۔ طلباء سے بات چیت کرتے ہوئے انہوں نے اس بات پر زور دیا کہ طلباء منفی چیزوں پر دھیان نہ دیں اوروالدین کے خواب پورے کریں ۔ان کا کہنا تھا کہ اگر میں چاہوں کہ سب لوگ دنیا کو میری نظر سے دیکھیں تو میں بنیاد پرست نہیں انتہا پسند کہلائوں گا۔ جب میں دوسروں کو اپنے نظریات ماننے پر مجبور کروں تو تشدد پسند یا دہشت گرد کہلائوں گا۔مجھے کسی کو ثابت نہیں کرنا کہ میں مسلم ہوں ، یہ میرا اور اللہ کا معاملہ ہے، مسلمان ہونے کے لئے نعرہ لگانے کی ضرورت نہیں، عمل سے ثابت کریں۔اس طرح کے سیمینارزاور کانفرنسیں یقینا ہمارے نوجوانوں کو دہشت گردوں اور شدت پسندوں کے ہتھکنڈوں کے بارے میں مؤثر طور پر باخبر اور باشعور رکھتی ہیں۔ بہرحال جامعہ کراچی علم کا ایک ایسا رواں چشمہ ہے جس نے پاکستان کی تعمیر سے استحکام تک ایک ناقابل فراموش کردار ادا کیا ہے۔ یہ چشمہ اسی طرح رواں رہ کر ملک کی ترقی اور استحکام کو دوام بخشتا رہے گا۔


The Ebola Attack

Written By: Dr. Rizwan Khan (Georgia, USA)

Ebola means "black river", an ominous and befitting definition. It was discovered in 1976, in a small village in the Democratic Republic of Congo, following an outbreak. Under the microscope, you see a small thread-like worm, little indication to its devastating potential. How does Ebola survive in nature? It needs a host, an animal where it can sneakily reside, and most scientists believe that fruit bats serve this role for Ebola. Just like mosquitoes are "hosts" for malaria and dengue fever. These hosts are usually symptom-free and can introduce viruses to other animals, especially chimpanzees, monkeys and apes. Eventually this unwelcome visitor reached us, humans, through close contact with bodily secretions, blood or organs from these animals. the ebula2We are witnessing the largest Ebola outbreak in history. To date, Centre for Disease Control (CDC), USA estimates approximately 8947 cases and 4493 deaths. This current outbreak started December 2013, when unfortunate two year-old Emile became the first casualty, in the village Meliandou, Guinea. It spread through human contact and gradually added more victims. The pace picked up as cases appeared in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone. Now the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates about 1000 people per week are getting infected, and could rise to 5000-10000 per week. One estimate by CDC has 1.4 million people infected by January. And that translates to over 500,000 deaths. The virus reached USA on September 20, 2014 when Thomas Duncan came to Dallas, Texas from Liberia, going through Brussels on a plane. Two healthcare workers taking care of Mr. Duncan subsequently contracted Ebola and more cases may emerge in USA. Mr. Duncan's story highlights some of the challenges in dealing with Ebola. The world is increasingly inter-connected, and viruses don't care about borders. Due to the virus' incubation period, a person could be symptom-free and pass through airport screening measures. These screening measures also rely on a person being honest about having contact with symptomatic Ebola sufferers. Healthcare workers need to have a high index of suspicion to diagnose "exotic diseases" like Ebola and have proper training for management. Even advanced nations, like USA, can be caught off-guard if they are not prepared. Ebola has a dramatic clinical course, usually lasting 6–10 days. Initial symptoms are “flu-like” with high fever, headache, muscle pain, and weakness. This can be followed by diarrhoea, vomitting, and unexplained bleeding or bruising. the ebula3In the end stage, severe bleeding leads to death from multi-organ failure and shock – literally “bleeding to death.” Initial symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola (known as its incubation period), but the average is 8 to 10 days. The people at highest risk for acquiring Ebola are those who travel to West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone), healthcare workers taking care of Ebola patients and family and friends coming in contact with Ebola patients. In humans, Ebola virus is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes, like nose, mouth, eyes) with infected blood or bodily fluids, objects like needles or syringes that have been contaminated with the virus, or have come in contact with infected animals. Unlike the flu, thankfully, Ebola is not airborne. It is imperative for healthcare workers to wear personal protective equipment as outlined by organizations such as the WHO or CDC including wearing gowns, gloves, protective eye wear, and facemask when coming in contact with a person under investigation for Ebola. Laboratory testing is available for Ebola virus. However, it is neither feasible nor good practice to test everyone for Ebola who comes to the hospital complaining of fever. There are several other more common illnesses that have symptoms similar to Ebola, such as the flu, malaria, and typhoid fever. When considering who to test, it is important to get a good travel history and exposure. It is also recommended to quarantine patients under investigation for Ebola to reduce risk of possible transmission. Public health officials should be notified immediately of any person who tests positive for Ebola for further guidance and public health surveillance purposes. The case fatality rate of Ebola in current outbreak ranges from 50-70%, which means for every 1000 people infected, over 500 will die. Although no effective treatment is currently available, experimental drugs and vaccines are under development. Recovery depends on good supportive care and patient's immune response. The following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve chances of survival; intravenous fluids and maintaining electrolytes (body salts), maintaining oxygen saturation, maintaining blood pressure, and treating other infections if they occur. Patients infected with Ebola may require large amounts of intravenous fluids as they get dehydrated from large volume diarrhoea and vomitting that they experience. To summarize, people infected with Ebola need to be caught early, treated aggressively and isolated appropriately. The international response to the outbreak has been slow and lacking in urgency until the virus reached outside Africa. Guinea officials notified WHO in March 22, 2014 about growing Ebola cases. WHO declared the outbreak a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern" on August 8, 2014. The following month, USA President Obama announced deployment of about 3000 military personnel to West Africa for setting up treatment clinics and training healthcare workers. The USA State Department advises against any non-essential travel to the affected regions. The idea of imposing a “travel ban” from affected region is controversial and current USA administration believes it could do more harm than good, as it could restrict movement of humanitarian aid workers and medical personnel. In addition, President Obama said, “If we institute a travel ban instead of the protocols that we've put in place now, history shows that there is a likelihood of increased avoidance.” It is felt that people may avoid getting screened, treated or quarantined properly. Stopping the outbreak in West Africa and having proper screening measures at airports is believed to be the best strategy. The impoverished African nations were no match for Ebola. These countries have deficient infrastructure, dysfunctional healthcare systems, low education rates, limited resources, poor sanitation and continual political unrest. In addition, there is widespread mistrust of authority, be it their own government or foreigners. Sounds familiar? Pakistan has similar conditions, although not quite as severe. The probability of Ebola reaching Pakistan is low. But recently, WHO representative in Pakistan, Dr. Michel Thieren, warned that due to recent spread and international travel, there is greater risk of Ebola reaching Pakistan. He suggested Pakistani government should take speedy precautionary measures and steps against the deadly disease. Advanced preparation is crucial to counter this difficult challenge. Even today, diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, polio, are proving to be formidable adversaries. Imagine trying to battle an illness never seen before in that country. Pakistan's Health Ministry issued an Ebola Virus Advisory on August 19, 2014 and a meeting was held on October 15, 2014 to develop an "emergency plan". Specific recommendations included: setting up "Ebola Counters" at airports, building temporary clinics and special isolation wards and monitoring military personnel returning from African nations be monitored for at least 21 days. These are encouraging steps, but more work needs to be done for enhancing awareness of Ebola and providing facts to counter potential misinformation or myths about the disease. For individuals, it is vital to wash hands with soap frequently and avoid close contact with suspected cases. Community burials need to be performed safely, as close contact with the body can lead to infection. Hospitals and clinics need to practice proper sanitation techniques. On a societal level, increasing awareness of the disease and community engagement is crucial. Misinformation and suspicious beliefs about the disease need to be addressed. If people believe Ebola is a "government conspiracy" or a "curse from higher beings", it will be harder to confront. For example, Dr. Cyril Broderick, wrote in a prominent Liberian newspaper, "Ebola virus is a genetically modified organism that was tested on Africans by aid agencies at behest of Western Governments." On national level, Health Ministry and relevant agencies need to develop a "Preparedness Plan" and provide adequate resources and support for local communities if needed. Government officials should enact legislation and regulation to support readiness efforts. Globally, WHO and related organizations are prepared to support and assist countries in formulating such a plan. Bottom line is: be prepared early, be informed and be ready to act. In conclusion, Ebola is a global matter, and similar diseases are likely to challenge us. Valuable insights can be gained from this outbreak to help develop prevention efforts. Pakistan must especially bolster its efforts, as consequences of not doing so are potentially devastating.

The writer is practicing at Saint Francis Hospital, Columbus, Georgia (USA).

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