Time to Speak Out and Break the Taboo



Need of the Time

Menstruation, also known as Periods is a regular natural cycle that occurs in the female reproductive system but girls particularly in Pakistan dread getting their periods. Unfortunately in Pakistan, menstruation is a hushed matter due to cultural constraints. Therefore, many girls face a lot of obstacles when it comes to sanitation.

According to UNICEF report, only 20 percent of girls have access to sanitary napkins in school whereas most of the girls reported that they can’t go to schools if they can’t find pads to wear or a toilet in which to change them in the school premises.  Girls also reported a lack of adequate facilities in school bathrooms while some schools don’t have running water so that girls can keep their hands and bodies clean while menstruating. There is a dire need to break the silence on this topic, so that millions of young girls every year don’t see their period as a disability, but a natural, normal part of their lives.

In a bid to break the stereotype associated with menstruation, the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) campaign was launched by the MHM working group to increase awareness about sanitation and menstruation hygiene environment.

The day is observed on May 28 every year across the world aims at creating awareness to break taboos and myths around menstruation and to encourage women to overcome their hesitation about menses.

Every year, the theme is different and this year, the global theme of the day is “Menstruation Matters for Everyone, Everywhere.”


Time to Speak Out

In Pakistan, a panel discussion was held which focused on how the health, education, and sanitation of adolescent girls are impacted by lack of proper MHM was organized. Panelists included government representatives from across the country that explored the much-needed solutions to tackle the taboo and associated problems that females’ especially young adolescent girls face.  The event was organized by the MHM Working Group, a coalition of humanitarian organizations working to champion menstrual hygiene rights in Pakistan.

Menstrual Hygiene Management remains a taboo in Pakistan which affects a woman’s self-esteem, health and education.

Young girls in Pakistan bare most of this brunt as they lack the knowledge and services to manage menstruation which in turn affects their learning experiences. Research reveals that marginalized girls can miss up to two to four consecutive days of schools every four weeks due to their periods. This of course has serious implications on their learning.

Women are the bringer of new life into the world, and periods are a part of that process. This is an attitude that we need to bring back into our conversations, but also our attitudes, towards all matters related to sexual and reproductive health. It is time that all sectors come together to break the silence around MHM by supporting strong policy implementation across all state levels.



Importance of Cleanliness for Healthy Lifestyle

In a country like Pakistan it seems there is no concept of cleanliness, wherever you see, you witness heaps of garbage lying on the streets.  People throw garbage everywhere other


Piles of Garbage blocking the sewage: Online

than the dustbins. These trashes are a hotbed for severe illnesses, if you want to know how?  So the answer is quite simple; Unhygienic conditions such as dirty linen, leftover food or overflowing garbage attract pests and flies that serve as hosts for transmitting preventable diseases like diarrhea, food poisoning and gastric related illnesses.

unhyienic food

Gastric Disease is prevalent due to Unhygienic Roadside eateries

Around 60-70 million people are affected annually with gastric diseases.  Half of country’s population is without proper sanitation and hygiene.  The economic impact of poor sanitation has resulted in an annual loss of 3.94% or more of Gross Domestic Products (GDP).  Much is said about cleanliness and hygiene but its application is missing in our society.

Several factors contribute to the quality of life; however, cleanliness and hygiene are one of the basic essentials. There is a need to inform and educate people about the importance of cleanliness in our society.  While we can’t control what goes on in our environment, we do have control over our immediate surroundings. Government along with civilians and corporate organizations together need to play their due role in improving sanitation conditions of the country.

The importance of cleanliness cannot be ignored in individual as well as in community level. On one hand it is an important factor for human health whereas on the other hand it is essential for environmental development as well. “Cleanliness is half part of faith”, therefore as an individual, one is liable to clean up its own act (not in literal sense) but rather contribute in cleaning up its surrounding.

The best place to start off is ‘house’ where people spend a lot of their time.  Hygiene environment plays a vital role in contributing to living a healthy life. It’s important to root out dirt and pests that can make you sick and eventually cost you money.  If cleanliness of your home environment is important to you, you will ensure that it is kept clean all the time. Basic hygienic tips for instance washing hands after coming from outside; cleaning sink and counter-tops regularly while sweeping and moping with cleaning agents avoid the spread of dirt to oneself and others. These are some of the basics which if follow daily reduce the risk of bacterial growth at home.

Contaminated food also contributes to gastric diseases. The World Health Organization reported that 40 percent people

unhygienic food

Making Chaat in Unhygienic Condition

suffer from enteric diseases caused by contaminated food in developing countries of the world. Food contamination occurs due to different reasons like unsafe food packaging, food transportation under unhygienic conditions etc. One cannot control the contamination of food in external environment but can avoid food contamination in their home environment.  Decaying food leads to food contamination. It’s important to have a proactive approach towards food preservation.  Raw food like vegetables, fruits should be kept in the lower part of the fridge while cooked food needs to be covered it properly and keep in top section of the fridge.  One also ensures to utilize cooked food within two days before rotting.

Overflowing trash

Heaps of Garbage Outside Trash bins

The sight of overflowing trash cans looks horrible.  On the top of that, majority of the people throw garbage in the bins irrespective of the fact that it’s soggy or dry. Most of the people have trash bins without lid, contributing to a stinky odor, and hence attract flies at homes. To avoid this stinky smell,   place a couple of dryer sheets or other absorbent material in the bottom of the trash to absorb spills or dampness.

Many people nowadays prefer health-centric appliances for their homes. Keeping in perspective the hassle of today’s fast paced life, corporate organizations have introduced innovative home appliances such as refrigerator, washing machine and air conditioners, equipped with insect repellent technology.  The advanced technology has an ability to ward off insects or pests, from inside of the appliances and its surrounding area.

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Hygiene for Healthy Living: Online photo

By adopting the hygienic lifestyle, one can be saved from a lot of preventable diseases. ‘Prevention is better than cure’ there is a dire need to make conscious efforts to educate people about the significance of cleanliness and hygiene. In this regard, the government should also play its vital role in legislating stringent laws against littering and implement it at the grassroots level.

Knight in Shining Armor: Helping Women in the Pursuit of a Healthy Lifestyle

The human brain works wonders, most we are unaware of, however it needs fuel to keep energized otherwise we shall become nothing

Healthy lifestyle is key to happiness: Online

Healthy lifestyle is key to happiness: Online

more than mere zombies. An active mind is not just a choice, but a necessity to stay ahead of the game.  The age-old mantra, ‘We

are what we eat’, means to lead a healthy lifestyle we have to eat healthy. But unfortunately we live in a fast-paced world where eating junk is easier and probably cheaper than following a healthy diet.

In this day and age both men and women have to work along each other to make ends meet.  In a country like Pakistan, working women have lots of responsibilities; not only do they have to earn, but are expected to be homemakers as well. As they juggle various responsibilities, their main concern mostly remains the health of their family.  However, it’s hard for them to invest more time in cooking proper meals, because of daily challenges; hence these women usually end up compromising on a healthy diet.

Advance kitchen appliances i.e. microwaves have made lives easier for women of today, but usually these microwaves have limited features; most just reheat and defrost. Moreover, one more disadvantage of these microwaves is that it cooks dishes non-desi dishes, serving no purpose to our local household. Hence, women in Pakistan have been reluctant to use it for daily cooking needs.

Health is wealth: Online

Cooking food in a healthy style: Online

Keeping in perspective the hassles of today’s women, certain local appliance brands have recently introduced innovative microwaves to solve their woes. Enriched with features such as grilling, and quick healthy meals along with built-in ‘desi’ recipes, these microwaves are custom-made to assist in our search for a healthy lifestyle.

‘A healthy outside starts from the inside’, therefore emphasis is not on having a scrumptious meal but it should be healthy too.  These microwave ovens dispel the misconception about zapping away the nutrient value from food. Food cooked in microwaves is as nutritious as food cooked in a conventional way. One precautionary measure is the use of microwave safe utensils to cook or heat food instead of plastic containers as it can melt due to excessive heat. With this caution, equal amount of heat is provided to food and as a result, the nutrient value of the food remains intact.

Some of the microwaves also come with another innovative offering: insect repellent technology.



This technology ensures that insects, usually found in kitchens, stay away from the inside of the microwave oven, ensuring proper hygienic standards are maintained before and after cooking.

No longer do women need to worry about a healthy diet for their family, as these microwaves are nothing short of a knight in shining metallic armor.  With these uniquely featured microwave ovens, one does not need to compromise on health due to shortage of time.

An Ordinary Man With A Profound Vision

Faiz Welfare Foundation

There are some people whom you meet in life, though they seem to be ordinary but their work towards humanity speaks high of them. Dr. Muhammad Faizur Rehman Siddiqui is one of them. He is the Chairman of the Faiz Welfare Foundation (FWF) and a Consultant Physician (a Specialist of Heart Disease, Hypertension, and Diabetes Mellitus). FWF is a social organization which has started its work from last year (2010). 

According to Dr. Siddiqui, the objective of this organization is to work on Hepatitis B and C patients specifically. It is a chronic disease which if not treated may cause cirrhosis (liver damage) after 15 years and ultimately after 20 years it may also lead to cancer. There is no vaccine for this infection whereas the tests and medicines are expensive which is out of reach for the poor people and even lower middle class cannot afford.

He shares the journey from being a Physician to the Chairman of FWF which in his own words ‘a long one’. He has worked at many places.  After graduating from Dow Medical College in 1974, he went to Muscat where he started his professional career. He worked for two years as General Physician over there. Then he went to Abu Dhabi where he spent 26 years working at the Government Hospital for first ten years though later he started his own private practice. He also used to do a radio show in Abu Dhabi named as Radio Doctor where he used to answer the queries regarding health problems. He also participated in social activities arranged by Pakistan Culture Centre. He also did his practice in Government Hospital at Canada for five years. But after the death of his wife, he comes back to Karachi in April 2007. Presently he is working at different hospitals which include Indus Hospital, MediLink and Park Lane.

While working at Indus Hospital, he comes across many patients suffering from Hepatitis who have no money to pay for expensive tests. Therefore to utilize the alms money in right direction, the concept of FWF comes into existence to facilitate the poor for the treatment of one of the incurable disease. Hepatitis C is one of the wide-spread diseases in the Pakistan and at least 15-20% people are suffering from this infection.

He informs that now his foundation is treating 20 patients a month and after every one month, twenty more new patients are added. It is a six month course and we have started the treatment from December 2010, which will end in May 2011. After May, he says, “We will add 50 more patients every month for the treatment.”

Moreover, he explains that the procedure of the organization is to provide injections and medicines for whole month and after every one month, when these patients come for another round; they are being tested to see the results. But after the completion of six months, a special genotype test is conducted to see the benefits of the treatment and detect antibodies. However he is hopeful that the success rate will be 85%.

Dr. Siddiqui further reveals that the work of FWF has been evaluated by the Government of Pakistan; they have gone through the audit report of the organization after which Federal Board Revenue (FBR) has exempted the tax from the funds donated to the foundation in the form of charity. While inquiring about the expenses that foundation has to bear in the form of injections and other expenditures for which he replies that the miscellaneous costs are all paid by our pocket whereas, the donations are only used on patients.

The foundation is also supporting Indus Hospital and now seven more people are working under this organization. Though the plan of Dr. Faiz is to expand the organization into a medical centre and to start the ambulance services but due to limited resources, it is still under process. He has not only made the pilot project but also working on it.

He is clear about his intention; his vision is to work more on hepatitis B and C patients not only in the city but also to the rural areas. He is working to make specialized medical centre which will also do research on these infections by collecting data of Hep Band C patients from whole Pakistan. He says that by doing this, we will be able to recognize our work in the forum of World Health Organization. Though, recently in first half of this year, FWF has been granted license by Security and Exchange Comission of Pakistan as the non-profit organization.

Dr. Siddiqui believes that it is an obligation for the affluent people to work for those who are needy. He further says that he is not the kind of person who sits at home and be critical about the system, rather he believes in self-service.

The journey of thousand miles begins with a single step, an adage that says a lot for a person who in his own small ways is working for welfare of the people. Though he is not a celebrity or someone in power; he is an ordinary man with a big vision. As he says, “I am here to play my part and hoping that the efforts will not go vain.”