By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI – Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has said that the provincial government will set up three new centres for the treatment and care of people suffering from HIV/AIDS.
These centres, he added, would be established at Karachi’s Jinnah Postgraduate Centre (JPMC), Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) and Hyderabad’s Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences.
The CM announced this while talking to the director of UN AIDS’ regional support team for Asia-Pacific, Steven J. Kraus, who along with three member delegation called on him to discuss measures being taken by Sindh government for curbing the spread of HIV.
On this occasion, Mr. Kraus, pointed out that access to treatment for HIV patients in Pakistan was only five per cent and it is very low as compared to other countries such as Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia where it is more than 85pc.
Deploring that HIV prevalence in Pakistan, Indonesia and Philippines was increasing, he said that Karachi had been selected as an important city by the UN AIDS programme for ridding it of HIV/AIDs by 2030.
Mr. Kraus also informed that only two million people in the Asia-Pacific region had access to treatment, but by implementing the planned fast-tracked plan the number of people, who can get treatment, could increase up to 4.1m.
In this regard, he offered UN’s technical assistance to government officials and building the capabilities of doctors and paramedical staff.
At the outset, he highlighted the need for introducing Opiate Substitution Therapy for rehabilitation of drug addicts and opening up more Anti-Retroviral Treatment centres for HIV/AIDS patients.
Briefing the meeting, Sindh AIDS Control Programme’s manager Dr Mohammad Younis Chachar said there were 8,752 people with HIV/AIDs in Sindh and of them 6,188 were in Karachi.
He said 21 voluntary, confidential and counselling testing centres, 46 sexually-transmitted infection centres and five Anti-Retroviral Treatment centres are working at Karachi’s Civil Hospital, Aga Khan University Hospital, Indus Hospital and Larkana’s Chandka Medical College and Hospital.
Earlier, the CM informed the UN AIDS team that Sindh was the first province to have passed the HIV/AIDS Control, Treatment and Protection Act in 2013 and had also prepared a three-year plan at an estimated cost of Rs1248 million to develop designated wings within the health department for devising and implementing treatment and prevention strategies between 2015 and 2018.
He said that Rs637m had already been spent to boost the HIV/AIDs control programme between 2011 and 2014 and thereafter it was extended till 2015 with an allocation of Rs100m.
Lauding the support being extended by the UN AIDS team for the eradication of HIV/AIDs, he said that health officials, and medical and paramedical staff of government hospitals required latest technology and skills for providing better treatment and services to patients.
The official of the UN AIDS’ regional support team appreciated the efforts of Sindh government and its team engaged in eradicating the menace of HIV/AIDs from the province.