KARACHI: The provincial health minister on Saturday informed the Sindh Assembly that the government was establishing an endowment fund for HIV patients, particularly children, which would work to create awareness among communities.
“We are establishing an endowment fund especially for the children who form dominant majority of the current HIV problem in Larkana to create awareness among the communities so that these affected children could not pass their life by enduring continuous stigma and dishonour,” Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said while speaking on the fifth day of general discussion on the provincial budget 2019-20.
She said that the health department in assistance with WHO had screened more than 28,000 people in Ratodero and surrounding areas and found more than 800 people affected by HIV. “Out of more than 800 people infected with HIV, more than 600 are children.”
“This issue is very serious, particularly when we have communities where such diseases are considered as stigma to children whose entire life, thus, become difficult to pass,” she said.
She said health facilities in Ratodero and other parts of Larkana district were being improved.
Opposition lawmakers vow to make ruling PPP accountable for corruption in its 11-year rule; budget debate continues
The minister said the health department was also establishing a body for infection prevention and control in the province, which would be first of its kind in the country. She added health personnel were being trained for the purpose.
She said there were eight incinerators in seven tertiary-care hospitals across the province, which included two in the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and one each in the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi, Lyari General Hospital and hospitals elsewhere in Sindh.
Similarly, five sterilisation units were also functioning in hospitals.
Dr Pechuho said the government had allocated funds for auto-destruct syringes in the next fiscal year’s budget and training of health providers had been initiated in Larkana before targeting other districts.
‘Network of ambulances across Sindh’
The provincial government, she added, had spent Rs350 million on 60 ambulances being run by the Aman Foundation in the past nine months; while Rs979m had been allocated for next fiscal year.
She said 40 more ambulances would be arranged for Karachi and the provincial government had planned to design a network of ambulances in all parts of Sindh.
She said a forensic lab would be completed by end-July. The federal government, and not the provincial government, had discontinued the Hepatitis Control Programme, she added.
She said Sindh had relatively greater (2.5 per cent) incidence of hepatitis B than Punjab’s (2.2pc). However, Punjab’s figures for hepatitis C were much bigger (8.9pc) than Sindh’s 4.9pc.
She said Sindh never hid its health indicators like other provinces. Sindh provided treatment to more than 4,000 out of more than 10,000 HIV/AIDS patients while in Punjab 8,308 out of more than 18,000 patients were being treated.
She said attacks on polio workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had gravely affected the last anti-polio campaign in Sindh and other parts of the country.
She said lady health workers’ programme would be further expanded with recruitment of more than 2,200 LHWs.
Dr Pechuho said more than 1.12m people were treated last year through services provided by the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and its affiliated units. Around 600,000 people had been treated by them so far this year, she said.
Opposition vows to make PPP accountable
Grand Democratic Alliance’s Shaharyar Mahar said “billions of rupees” had been embezzled during the past 11-year rule of Pakistan Peoples Party and the ruling party would be made accountable for it.
He said children in Thar were continuously dying and 19 more children had died since debate on the budget had begun.
Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s Abdul Rasheed said federal government’s budget was a recipe for disaster and it offered 100pc deficit.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s amnesty scheme was yet another U-turn on his part.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Khurram Sher Zaman’s exchange of words with PPP’s Sharjeel Memon created a stir in the house for a while when he said Mr Memon would also be crying while in prison.
Treasury benches began chanted slogans “go Niazi go” when Mr Zaman uttered a word, generally used by his party leader, for those who had prepared the Sindh budget.
Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari asked him not to utter such words that affected peace in the house.
Opposition Leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi also gestured to his colleague to speak responsibly.
He said that the Sindh government was responsible for present price hike. He also alleged the provincial government was involved in huge corruption.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Ali Khurshidi said the provincial government had badly treated Karachi in the past 11 years. He said the city had been turned into a garbage dump.
Awais Shah, Mehboobuz Zaman, Hari Ram, Imdad Pitafi, Jamal Siddiqui, Tahira Bhutto, Aslam Abro, and Adeel Shahzad also spoke.
Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2019