LARKANA: The Adviser to the Prime Minister for Health, Dr Zafar Mirza, recently said that the outbreak of HIV in Ratodero had not only shaken the country but entire world, adding that when he was in Geneva, he was also questioned about the surfacing of HIV.
He said that the root cause behind the large number of children infected with AIDS must be detected. He was addressing a press conference at Darbar Hall after presiding over a high-level meeting on the AIDS issue. In the meeting, he was given a briefing with the help of charts and slides. The meeting was also attended by the Provincial Health Minister, Dr Azra Pechuho, Vice Chancellor, Benazir Bhutto Medical University, Prof Dr Aneela Attaur Rahman, Sindh AIDS Control Program Manager, Dr Sikandar Memon, Prof K Das, Principal, Chandka Medical College, and others.
Dr Zafar said that some of the causes were very common such as the usage of the same syringe, transfusion of contaminated blood, the spread of infection in the hospitals, unsafe sex, and so forth. He said when the parents of affected children were tested, most of them were negative, which means they were infected from other sources which need to be thoroughly probed.
Zafar informed that the federal government, along with UNICEF, WHO, UNAID, Aga Khan Foundation, Aga Khan University Hospital, and other organizations, were cooperating with the Sindh government in this connection and would continue to coordinate till root cause was detected.
He said: “We should keep away health issue from the politics and work together for the betterment of the ailing poor masses. We need nonpolitical education and health systems in the country. We have 5000 kits in stock at the moment which will be provided to the provincial government.”
He said: “If more kits are needed, these will be imported because it is our collective issue.” Dr Zafar said that instead of relying on the Global Fund, we should rely on own resources which should be a priority. The purpose of coming to Larkana was to see what the Sindh government had done, but he was satisfied with the work of the health department, he added.
Zafar further added that the health department needed much improvement not only in Sindh but across Pakistan. He said a meeting would soon be held with the manufacturers of disposable syringes so that these could be wiped out of Pakistan after a time limit for which regulation will also be revisited. He stated that the reasons for the spread of HIV & Hepatitis are almost the same such as usage of un-screened blood, same syringe, etc. Doctors should change their illegal practice due to which HIV is spreading fast in the world. He said if doctors did not change their illegal practices, then we would be heading towards great destruction. He advised that the media should refrain from disclosing the names of the affected persons and report responsibly.
Sindh Health Minister, Azra Pechuho, said that the provision of kits and other related facilities had been requested to the federal government for which they had been assured of full support and cooperation. She informed that till Eid, they would be able to get the final number of HIV positive cases in Ratodero and adjoining areas and if cases increased, then screening would continue even after Eid. She informed that three teams from the Aga Khan Hospital were working here free of cost.
She said all the 600 positive cases had not been examined by arrested Dr Muzaffar Ghangro, adding that the investigation was underway and its report would be made public. She disclosed that auto-lock syringes stock was not even available with the companies, but they would ensure that in future, these syringes are used in all government and private hospitals.
Dr Zafar Mirza and Dr Azra, accompanied by senior doctors, later visited the HIV/AIDS Treatment & Care Center and ART Ward. Dr Mirza also directed the relevant authorities on occasion to check the record of affected children of 1-5 years whether they were vaccinated.