HIV spread witnessed in Punjab, KP also in the past, Pechuho tells critics

Published May 15, 2019
SINDH Health Minister Azra Pechuho speaks to the media in Larkana on Tuesday.—Dawn
SINDH Health Minister Azra Pechuho speaks to the media in Larkana on Tuesday.—Dawn

LARKANA: Sindh Health Min­is­ter Dr Azra Pechuho on Tuesday announced that more blood scree­ning camps would be established in and around Ratodero to expedite the process of detecting HIV/AIDS cases in the area.

The camps would be set up at Banguldero, Garhi Khuda Bakhsh Bhutto, Lashari basic health unit (BHU) and other places in the district, she added.

Speaking to reporters after presi­ding over a meeting regarding the spread of HIV/AIDS in Ratodero, the volume of work the department had done and a future line of action to fight the deadly disease, she admitted that HIV/AIDS project was focused on high-risk population for which the Global Fund had been providing assistance.

She said that instead of rushing to Ratodero in the days of out­break, she sat in Karachi and mob­i­lised resources to effectively add­ress the issue.

More blood screening camps in & around Ratodero to be set up, says minister

It was “meaningful” to monitor the overall situation. She said teams were dis­p­a­t­ched to Larkana and Ratodero to handle the situation, claiming that they were performing well.

In the past, she said, outbreaks had also been reported in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and reports from different countries were also on record. The outbreak in Rato­dero was reported in general population while the scope of Sindh HIV/AIDS control programme was to focus on high-risk population, she said.

She said that in violation of ethics to be followed in media while reporting this sensitive issue, it [media] disclosed names of the patients and even published their pictures.

She considered it as a “breach of confidentiality”. She said Sindh was the province that had passed legislation regarding HIV/AIDS and warned journalists that if they in future did not adhere to ethics and were found to be in breach of confidentiality while reporting HIV/AIDS issues, they would face legal action.

She said more funds were needed to address the issue of HIV/AIDS for which she hinted at annexing the item of allocating handsome amount in the ensuing budget document for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in the province. Currently the government received funds from the Global Fund.

“We need Rs60 million to purchase kits for blood screening,” she said. She said action against quacks would continue in the province and it would be tougher, adding that so far 500 clinics of quacks had been sealed in the province and appreciated the Sindh Health Care Commission’s performance.

She said: “We are planning to permanently discontinue the prac­tice of reusing syringes.” Soon use of auto-lock syringes would be mandatory in hospitals, she added.

She stressed the need of arranging more community aware­ness programmes to keep bigger population abreast about the situation and adopting preventive measures. She said: “We are investigating that from where the HIV/AIDS virus had crept into the general population and who is responsible for this outbreak.”

If anyone was found responsible for spreading this deadly virus, he would be dealt with in accordance with law, she said.

Doctor accused of spreading HIV sent to sub-jail

Ratodero’s Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate-II Muhammed Nasir Baloch on Tuesday sent the doctor suspected of spreading HIV in Ratodero town to a sub-jail in the town after expiry of a police remand.

The Ratodero police had submitted an interim charge sheet in the court regarding the case registered against the doctor.

The judge had asked the police to submit final charge sheet in the case within seven days. The police had also submitted the copy of the blood screening test of the doctor which was done on court’s direct­ives at Aga Khan Laboratory. The doctor was diagnosed as HIV positive in the report.

Meanwhile, the blood screening camp at Taluka Hospital Ratodero continued on 16th day on Tuesday where a team of doctors along with technicians carried out tests. Total 1,616 persons were screened at the camp and of them 33 were identi­fied as HIV positive, including two women and 31 children (17 boys and 14 girls).

It was learnt that the JIT cons­tituted by Larkana DIG Irfan Bal­och to probe into the outbreak of HIV/AIDS cases in Ratodero had almost completed the investigation. It was waiting for the blood report of the doctor accused of spreading HIV, which was to be submitted in the court concerned on Tuesday by Ratodero police.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2019


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