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Archive for January 27, 2011


Since time immemorial we are known for our spices. The westerners – the Portuguese, the French, the British all came to Indian subcontinent not for the intentions to rule us , but on a look out  for spices. India at that time was known as  the ‘spice heaven’ of the world..

And till now, we have maintained out appetite for spicy food. A little less masala in the Biryani and we complain it wasn’t delicious. Infact, we refuse to eat it.
Same is the case with our appetite for Masala news. WE LOVE SPICY NEWS , RELISH IT,  CHEW IT LONG IN OUR MOUTHS,  AND EVEN REGURGITATE IT with blogs after blogs. But any boring bland news we just swallow it like my son does to the tasteless vegetables.

Human rights group called HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, based in New York, way back in 1999 published a report that Pakistani women, 90% of them, are subjected to verbal, sexual, emotional, or physical abuse in their very homes. I remember seeing the news in various newspapers. But am sure it just went unnoticed–one,  that not many have the habit to read, two, it didnt come as a dramatic news on the TV tagged with a celebrity announcing it.

Yes we are a nation who  loves  to watch TV too and we love dramas the most.

When our dramas became boring with loaded intellect of Sania, Marina, Samina like dull boring women, we switched to watching STARPLUS from India–because they are more spicy.


So right was  Mehr Bukhari on a TV show just a day ago that,  “We are intellectually bankrupt, and hence we want media or the starlets to take the lead in reformation of the society.”

How many of us remember the name of a faceless girl Amina on whom acid was thrown on her face by her husband in Karachi a couple of years ago and YES she too protested a great deal and came in the media and was evenhighlighted by I A REHMAN, the director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

But why should we?

Neither she was a starlet wearing sphagetti sleeves in front of a Mullah nor was IA Rehman a macho.

How many of us even can recognise the picture of Dr Shazia Khalid who was gang raped in Balochistan and that triggered the war between Pak army and Baloch tribes. Not a small issue.
Why the hell should we–she was not at all a Bigboss enterant. And she did protest too,  that too against the rapists, who we know who they are ,and then left to USA out of frustration and her safety. How many blogs came out on her–there were but not as many, I can bet.
But she never became the champion of the raped girls or symbol of oppression..

Yes Mukhtara Mai did become one. I am glad and I laud all of us for making her so- the media, the bloggers, the FB friends. We all made her the ‘hero’.  Not she herself. Exceptions are always there.

A  schoolgirl,  Kainat Soomro was gang raped at the age of 13. Four years later, today, she is still fighting for justice.
“Kainat Soomro should have stayed silent. After being battered and gang raped for four days her traditional, conservative village in rural Pakistan expected the 13-year-old girl to keep her story to herself. She refused.”

Writes Robin Crilly,   from Daily Telegraph on just 26 December, 2010. How many of us cross posted after reading it.  And this includes me too. I do not absolve myself from this indifference.

This is what a 13 year old Kainat said,
“This is what happens in Pakistan. Poor women have no chance. These men set the rules and think they know how to deal with these issues. They don’t.”
But who noticed?  Who called her a Warrior Princess? Who claimed that Kaanat is ‘me’?

And then just yesterday the DAWN blog by Shyma  highlighting the killing of a faceless SAIMA etc and addressing to the frenzy of the bloggers to ‘hot’ stuff.

And I waited for 24 hours with impatience to see how many of my FB friends, who went and crossposted Veena , went gaga over her courage and valour, will crosspost this. Not even ONE did. Yes not even ONE.

Who are we  kidding guys?

I can go endlessly with such cases who are loaded  with serious issues and serious struggles. But the point is again we are a masala loving nation. And we want masala, the hotter the better.

I was wondering for the last 24 hours as to what is wrong with my brain, my thinking. Did God assemble it wrong order when doing so. Why do I think ‘wierd’ from others, when all of us agree to one thing that this is extremism, bigotry, moral policing is wrong.

I too think Veena being moral policed is wrong but then why am I not being a veena wannabe.
Is it because I am old or I am jealous of her beauty. May be, subconciously.

I even love hot food. But why not hot news then?

Then suddenly I get a flash in my head in the middle of a very important presentation that I was doing for an international organisation begging them to pay their attention to the Maternal Mortality in Pakistan too, not just India or Bangladesh.

And then the reality flashed probably because I donot ever ever switch on to the never ending soaps that run on STAR PLUS. I am so feeble minded that I cant recall even one name.

To what extent am I blind will be obvious from this incident- when I ran into a ‘huge’ startlet who was a VIP for a fundraiser we had worked for–I just didnt place her and offered her a seat in the audience much to the offence of the organisers as well she herself.

Yes I donot watch Indian STARPLUS and that is my anomaly. I get it now to the peace of my mind. Hence,  I dont get the greatness in the two minutes screaming of a STARPLUS  heroine to a two minute moral policing for her.

But I love ‘hot’ food , please.

Ilmana Fasih



This excerpt is taken from an article ”
EMERGING WOMAN HAS A LOFTY AND KNOWLEDGE BASED PRIDE – Dr. A.P.J. Kalam” on four Indian Women Scientist published in India Current Affairs on September 3, 2010.

Madam Curie was a co-worker of Henri Becquerel during research, who discovered the properties of the element uranium. Curie came to know about those properties and set about investigating the effect, which she named “radio-activity” for her Doctorate research.

Madam Curie’s life has full of challenges. She was not afraid of the problems, she defeated the problem and succeeded. This experience of Madam Curie will definitely be an inspiration for all students of the present and future generations.

Marie Curie checked many other elements to determine whether they too were radioactive. She found one, thorium, and also came across a source of radiation in a mixture called “pitch-blend,” which was much more powerful than either thorium or uranium.

Working together, it took Marie and her husband Pierre four years to isolate the radioactive source in the pitch-blend. Madam Curie used to carry large quantity of pitch-blend on her head for extracting few grams of material in the laboratory which needed tons of ‘pitch-blend’. That few grams of the material was her discovery. Marie named it as radium. For the discovery of radium, Marie and Pierre won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903, which they shared with their friend A Henri Becquerel. Shortly, Marie found that what she had discovered was not pure radium, but she was able to isolate the element itself after quite a struggle. For this work, she was given the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1911.

During her work, Marie discovered radiation could kill human cells. She reasoned that if it could kill healthy human cells, it could kill diseased human cells also and went about isolating radium for use in killing tumors.

In 1906 Pierre Curie was offered the position of director of the Physics Laboratory at the Sorbonne. Before he could take the position, however, he was run over by a carriage and killed. After her husband died, Marie was offered and took the position, the first woman to become director of a research laboratory. In our country time has come for talented women scientists to take up the position of directors of major scientific laboratories.

During the first World War, Marie Curie went to work for the French designing and building X-ray machines. Knowing that moving soldiers to a hospital before they needed surgery was not always possible, she designed the first mobile X-ray machine and traveled with it along the front lines during the war.

On July 4, 1934, Marie Curie died in Paris, killed by her own experiments. She died of radiation poisoning and may have been the first person to do so. Marie Curie had brought herself up from poverty, struggling to get her education and succeeding brilliantly. The work she did, she did with patience, often getting results only after years of careful experimentation, while struggling for money to support her work. For her struggles, she received two Nobel Prizes – the first woman to win even one. Through the knowledge she gained, thousands of lives have been saved. The courage and perseverance shown by Madame Curie in her pursuit of scientific mission and achieving successes are indeed remarkable and stimulating.




Speaking in a forum of front-line service providers and the community members

Good evening everybody,

Depression has been shown to be a risk factor for mortality during the 12 months following acute myocardial infestion and stroke.Research of good quality namely the metaanylyses of various studies confirms that acute myocardial infarction(heart attack) and strokeare often accompahied by depression and anxiety. This may be either during the attack and hence being a contributory factor to it, or following later during the recovery phase.

About 40% of the patients within 6 months of heart attack or stroke have depression and a lot ( stats not available) more have anxiety or anxious personality. In fact we know that most of the people who suffer from the two ailments have the Type A personality , which is itself associated with anxiety.

The depression may be clinical i.e. with obvious signs and symptoms, or sub-clinical i.e. the symptoms are not obvious and hence often get missed by the treating cardiologist or neurologist unless they maintain a high index of suspicion.
Depression among these two group of patients is associated with broad range of adverse outcomes including mortality , prolonged hospitalisation, worse health status and a repeat event of heart attack or stroke.

One interesting study showed that the younger women (<60 yrs) are the most vulnerable group to be depressed and they are more likely to be–dark skinned, with low household income, single status, less than University education and a smoker. They are also more likely to be having other co morbid conditions like Diabetes, obesity, raised Cholesterol, CCF. But they are unlikely to be on b-blockers.

Amongst the men they are likely to be Hypertensive, have had revascularization procedure and lower ejection fraction i.e. lower pumping ability of the heart.

23% of the patients discharged from the hospital post MI or Stroke treatment have clinical depression.
Out of those depressed only 27% ( 31% of women and 24% of men) had previous history of depression prior to the event. This implies that about 73% had the depression, triggerd by the event.
Unfortunately only 18% are discharged with a prescription medication for depression or referred for psychotherapy.
So it is important to clinically recognise depression in patients associated with MI or Stroke. Not only is depression an important illness in its own right, it confers 3-5 times higher risk of mortality within 6 months of the event. The mortality is high even in the absence of clinical diagnosis of major depression-with clear dose response relationship i.e.the more severe the depression, the more are the chances of dying in the next 6 months, and then also more chances of longer hospitalisation, worse symptomatology, psychological and social outcome in the next 3 and 12 months.
And patients with moderate to severe depressive symptoms require treatment and close followup with monitoring of their mood and compliance to the treatment

Aggressive screening of the patient for depression and anxiety at the time of admission, during hospital stay, at discharge and then followup with the Cardiologist or the Neurologist or the Family Physician.
About 25 % patients on treatment for depression after MI or Stroke do not respond to the medication and the depressive symptoms persist. Such patients need more stepped up care, even closer monitoring along with polytherapy and even Electroconvulsive therapy.

It is important for the post MI or Stroke patient to join a Cardiac or Stroke Rehabilitation Program. The programs with the help of the Rehab Team tailor the services to the patient.

You all can help find a rehab program for your clients in your community through Family Physicians, hospital where patient was treated, Public Health Department otr the local office of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Information about Cardiac/ Stroke Rehab is available at the HSFO website.

Take home message friends:

1. There is high ( 40%) incident of depression in post MI/Stroke patients
2 .Keep high index of suspicion to identify the depressed patients.
3. Its a viscious cirlce with MI/Stoke and Depression exacerbating each other.
4. Most vulnerable group ios the women below 60 yrs of age.
5. Timely diagnosis, treatment and foillowup can improve the physical as wel as the mental outcome of the patient post MI/Stroke.

Thank You

Ilmana Fasih

Lead, South Asian Health Ambassador
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario | Finding answers. For life.
Tel: 905.451.0021 905.451.0021 | Cell: 416-629-1689 416-629-1689 e Fax: 905.452.0503 | Address: 201 County Court Blvd., Suite 306 , Brampton , Ontario , L6W 4


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