HAFEEZ SHAIKH

HYDERABAD - The Centre for Environment and Development has demanded the government to establish a permanent national drought fund to fulfil responsibility of food security, agriculture, livestock development and water supply in the drought-hits areas. CED representatives including Prof Qalandar Shah, Nasir Ali Panhwar, Badar Abro, Dr Ali Murtaza Dharejo, Aziz Ranjhani and others made this demand here Sunday after a visited to the affected areas.

As per a press statement issued here, the representatives pointed out that Nara, Kohistan and Kaacho should also be declared as calamity hit areas like Thar. “The relief measures should be undertaken in all these areas too,” they said. According to them, these areas were also facing continuous shortage of fodder and water due to the ongoing dry spell during the monsoon.

“The situation is causing losses of livestock and has affected the life of the pastoral communities adversely,” they observed. They stressed that the impact of the present drought was much harsher than the past and only new strategies chalked out on the long term basis, could help the pastoral communities in combating their miseries.

“It is imperative that efforts should be made for water harvesting, support for diversification of income sources, fodder development, tree plantation, restocking, food aid and vaccination for livestock,” they said.

Panhwar said that there was a need of preparing a drought combating plan for all the arid zones of Sindh in consultation with the stakeholders representing government, NGOs, community and experts. The government, he added, should also adopt ways to support individuals and communities living in drought prone areas. “The long term steps must be aimed at the reduction of vulnerability of the people with drought management and recovery from drought,” he emphasised.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Agha Shahnawaz Babar took a serious notice of the complaints made by citizens about faulty design of Hosh Muhammad Sheedi Flyover constructed at Wadhuwah Ponam Chowk Qasimabad which is causing traffic conjunction. He directed the officials concerned to find out the ways and means for smooth traffic fellow with simple but effective adulteration or edition in traffic sections.

This he assigned the officers while presiding over the meeting called to resolve the problem of citizen as soon as possible.

Addressing a meeting, the DC said as per an estimate made by experts, 90 per cent traffic was passing below the bridge while only 10 per cent traffic using the bridge corridor due to the faulty design. He said the 90 per cent traffic passing below the bridge has to go in eight directions which is the main reason for traffic conjunction, causing difficulties to citizens, students, employees and traders to reach their destinations in time. He asked the officers to come up with their proposals including drawings, maps and estimate expenditures, and assured them that their proposals would be examined and evaluated on the site before taking any final decision in this regard.

Meanwhile, the parents should discourage their children to take single fast food meal as it could contain a dose of fat and carbohydrate large enough to cause changes in brain structure usually associated with addiction to drugs.

Eminent child specialist and paediatrician of Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences Jamshoro Dr Salma Shaikh said that heroin addicts who are denied of their high dose of fat and sugar can experience withdrawal symptoms and need increasing quantities to feel the same level of satisfaction. Expressing her concern, she said that fresh and dry fruits are out for many Pakistani children and have been replaced by cookies, colas candies etc and it is worrying the paediatricians who say diets rich in junk food could be the culprits behind the rapid rise of asthma and allergies in children.

Pakistani children seem to be gone through a palate change with desire for food that is fast and processed, she said. She said thousands of the children from the 6 to 14 year age brackets, in posh residences and slums, were tested for asthma and allergies and according to paediatricians, the prevalence of asthma was 19 percent and allergic rhinitis was more than 30 percent among them.

Highlighting the link between diet and asthma, Dr Salma Shaikh pointed out that this depended on fast food instead of eating fruits and vegetables are the cause of increasing asthma among children. In a comparison of some one 100 children with asthma symptoms and about 200 non-asthmatic children in Pakistan, it showed that those who had the lowest intakes of vegetables, milk, vitamin-E and minerals were more likely to suffer from the disease.

Dr Salma said that the children whose diets were low in vegetables and vitamin-E were two to three times more likely to develop asthmatic symptoms than other children irrespective of other factors such as family size, affluence and parental smoking. “Parents and teachers need to identify asthma as a growing problem and most important is that we must relearn our eating habits,” she emphasized.

Dr Salma said that the asthma, the most common chronic childhood disease, is one of the fastest growing ailments, with cases increasing by up to 50 per cent every 10 years. According to reports, around 150 million people worldwide suffer from the condition, she added.

She said that the eating hamburgers, chips and fat-loaded junk foods could be addictive and putting on weight may involve more than simply a loss of self-control. She informed that a recent research indicated that processed foods like pre-made frozen dinners, chips, sodas, etc., and fast foods also leads to high blood pressure and diabetes.

Dr Salma Shaikh said that link between junk food, high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes is mainly the processing of the foods which removes a lot of the natural nutrients originally in the food. She said that fruits or natural fruit juices, which contain fructose, are tremendously different from high-fructose products derived from corn and a really good fruit to eat are blueberries due to their high anti-oxidant value.

Eating fibrous food like vegetables and fruits is the best way to reduce the weight as it will help to avoid putting on extra weight and refrain eating fatty and junk foods.