Rolling out the Red Carpet

I welcome you to my blog and hope that you will like the tour. Please leave your footmarks with comments and feedback. This will through and through enhance my knowledge and profundity of thought. Enjoy! Asif J. Mir

Sunday, February 15, 2009

About Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever, seasonal viral infection characterized by fever, headache, extreme pain in the joints and muscles, and skin rash. A more serious but less common form of the disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), may cause severe and fatal internal bleeding. Dengue fever and DHF are caused by any of four different viruses, and are transmitted from one person to another by the female mosquito of two species of the genus Aedes. Outbreaks of the disease usually occur in the summer when the mosquito population is at its peak. The infection cannot be transmitted directly from person to person and not all people who are bitten necessarily contract the disease. Dengue fever and DHF occur in many tropical and sub-tropical areas in Asia, Africa, Central and South America.

The incubation period (time between infection and onset of symptoms) of dengue fever is five to eight days. The fever typically runs its course in six to seven days, but convalescence is usually slow. Treatment for dengue fever is directed at reducing symptoms.

The incubation period of Dengue hemorrhagic is two to seven days. In the early stages the symptoms are very similar to those of dengue fever. The second stage symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The onset of hemorrhagic symptoms rapidly follows—bleeding nose and gums, bruising easily, and sometimes internal bleeding. The amount of blood circulating through the body is reduced, sometimes producing shock, characterized by pale, cold extremities; a rapid, weak pulse; and falling blood pressure. Treatment for these symptoms is a standard fluid rehydration therapy in order to maintain blood pressure. If circulatory failure is not reversed, death may follow.

The most effective preventive measure is the use of mosquito repellent. As yet no successful vaccine for dengue fever has been developed. According to the WHO, dengue fever and DHF are among the most rapidly increasing insect-borne illnesses today. Several factors are believed to contribute to the wide spread of dengue fever. Inadequate water and waste treatment facilities, along with insufficient pest control measures, promote the rapid increase of mosquito populations in certain areas. In addition, dwindling public health resources cannot keep up with the needs of growing urban populations that are susceptible to infection.

Complicating matters further are societal changes. Increased international travel accelerates the spread of both new and old diseases: A person infected with an unusual virus on one continent can arrive—with the virus—on another continent in a matter of hours. Ships, planes, and trucks can transport disease-carrying organisms just as easily. In 1985 tires imported into Texas from Asia carried larvae of the Asian tiger mosquito, which is a carrier of dengue fever and other tropical diseases. Within five years, Asian tiger mosquitoes were living in 17 states. The WHO estimates that there are some 50 million cases of dengue infection worldwide every year.

Out and out, the Dengue conundrum has sprung up as a threat to our people and a challenge to health community. It is pouncing on innocent lives it is curable though. This is because our population is unconscious about the source or symptoms. This calls for the need of awareness campaigns. More than treatment, at this moment in time there is a dire necessity to educate people about preventive methods people ought to adopt. Asif J. Mir, Organizational Transformation

Some Stray Thoughts on Pakistan

Each dawn comes but once: It announces another opportunity to right the wrongs and build on the success of yesterday.

Like any other country, the sun rises in the morning in Pakistan. Nevertheless, this sun rises behind the dark thick clouds and its rays do not reach the mother earth where innocent people live, suffer—committing suicides, dumping their lived children or becoming the victims of terrorism, bad governance. It is painfully observed that the national dailies are publishing voluminous editions on non-issues but no column depicts public debate on real problems.

More than two thousand years ago, Diogenes walked down a dusty road in ancient Greece. According to the legend, as he walked, he carried a lighted lantern in his hand. He carried the lantern because even in broad daylight it wasn’t easy to find what he was looking for: an honest man.

Today, after all the passing centuries, in Pakistan one reads the morning newspapers or watches the TV news and wonders if Diogenes would find the search any easier. With so many signs of unethical behavior in the society at large, one may question if ethics have any place.

The absolute increase in population in Pakistan, coupled with such trends as urbanization and greater mobility clearly presents serious threats. If the current population growth rate of Pakistan continued for the next 130 years, its population would be equal to that of the whole world today. Needless to say, this will not happen. Either its birth rate will drop or its death rate will rise. Somehow the growth rate has to stop.

Some foreign industries are growing more competitive than their Pakistani counterparts. For the Pakistan as a nation to be competitive, however, it is not required that all Pakistani companies remain competitive in all areas. It however does mean that Pakistan’s business and entrepreneurs must be able to take advantage of opportunities offered by economic developments in other countries to move into other product lines.

Good infrastructure services are essential to achieve economic growth and improve the quality of life. But for Pakistan, despite improvements in access the quantity and quality of services are well below what is demanded.

The state of education in Pakistan is depressing. Today it simply cannot compete with even third-rate countries in standard indicators of academic achievement. Weak curricula and discipline have guaranteed educational failure for tens of millions of our children. In its most extreme manifestations learning literally has come to a halt. This is not to criticize present or past governments. All the same, the nation should look at itself and conclude that something must be done. It is not, however, that the government should reform education fundamentally. Real reforms come from the people.

The health sector requires offensive for offering an inadequate remedy for the serious problems of an outdated and basically unsound system. People must be offered a vision of a revitalized healthcare system that provides incentives for increased quality and technological innovation. While at the same time, reducing costs and uncertainty. Pakistanis today need a system that gives them control over healthcare decisions, while encouraging them to set aside the resources they need to purchase this care.

The poverty rate in Pakistan is increasing fast. Economic expansion can only nullify this trend. Any welfare policy cannot conquer poverty, nor can government alone. To rid Pakistan of poverty, there must be continued economic growth, deregulation, devolution of power, smaller government, elimination of policies that discourage self-improvement, and a stronger focus on education. The importance of the family in keeping poverty at bay may now be widely accepted, but programs are also needed to strengthen the family.

It is hard for Pakistan to win a successful war on poverty when it is so hard to identify the “enemy.” Even leaving aside such complicated notions as “relative” versus “absolute” poverty, the measurement of poverty is a crude process. The root cause of this defect is that the baseline official poverty rate is badly flawed measurement of what is generally understood to be poverty. It is based on reported cash income. Thus, unreported income is not measured. There has to be consumption standard in place of the income standard, quantity and quality of the food, housing, clothing, and other essential items needed to keep a family just cost of obtaining these items locally would then be the benchmark for determining whether the family’s income was below the poverty level.

Any system of laws that is too complex or expensive for people to understand and use, does not deliver justice. This increasingly has become the case with Pakistan’s legal system. It lacks increased use of mediation, conciliation, mini-trials, and where appropriate, arbitration. Decision makers in Pakistan should think about the dilemma to ensure that access to justice is available to all. Efforts to seek alternatives to litigation throughout the legal system need to be forged.

Terrorists, attacking non-combatant targets in Pakistan, threaten the society today. Their fundamental threat is to innocent citizens, social stability and ultimately, to the legitimacy of the elected regime. The threat from terrorism is growing. Terrorists are being organized, better equipped, and more professional than they were some years ago. Modernity should be used in countering terrorism. Multilateral treaties should also be worked out for effective handling of the threat.

By defining these main items designed to spur Pakistan’s progress, prosperity and competitiveness, the Pakistani intelligentsia can suggest solutions, alternatives, innovative ideas and utilitarian actions to help achieve prosperity. It can recommend means for increasing nation’s ability to sell more overseas through increased productivity. It can imply more efficient production techniques in business through new technology, better methods of industrial organization, cheaper sources of capital goods, or more efficient labor. Through increased productivity standards of living will rise, consumer choice will increase, and more opportunities for well-paying jobs will become available. Similarly, solutions can be recommended to miscellaneous problems that are degenerating the vitals of our national life.

Beyond doubt, the resources of knowledge, experience and expertise if harnessed and suggested means for the revitalization of the dormant energies in all sectors of human endeavor, Pakistan can emerge as a land of opportunities and haven of peace. Asif J. Mir, Organizational Transformation