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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

HIV Claims One More Life: Is PPP Serious To Improve Governance In Sindh?

HIV has claimed one more life in Sindh. The question is; has the Sindh government been awakened to deal with the failing state of health facilities in the province?

In another case, HIV claimed one more life of a child here on Friday. The victim was identified as Abdul Hafeez, son of Dhani Bux Jalbani, aged 5. He was a resident of a nearby village Mir Muhammad Jalbani. Experts believe that people in rural Sindh are not provided with basic health facilities which cause heavy loss.

Recently, in a by-election (PS-11) the PPP lost a seat to a candidate backed by the PTI. Mazhar Abbas, a senior analyst, identified the causes of PPP’s defeat and pointed out that the miserable state of governance has raised some serious legitimacy crisis for the party.

Meanwhile, according to the official statistics shared on Friday by the Provincial Program Manager, Sindh AIDS Control Program (SACP), Dr Sikandar Memon, two more new cases were detected on Friday at the Screening Camp established at Taluka Headquarter Hospital (THQ), Ratodero, since 25th April, 2019, out of 20 people among the general population who arrived for testing.

Media reports suggest that over 520 people, many of them children, have tested HIV positive in recent weeks in Larkana, Ratodero, as experts warn of a surge in infection rates across the country due to the use of unsanitary equipment and rampant malpractice — often at the hands of quack doctors.

Startling Facts

A report by the Director-General (DG) Health, Sindh, Dr. Masood Solangi, on the spread of HIV in Larkana’s Rotodero district has revealed startling facts. According to the report, over 14,000 people in the Rotodero district were screened out of which 534 tested positive for the HIV virus.

Of these patients, 270 were female and 264 male. The age group distribution revealed the most affected age group was 2-5, years with 294 (55.05%) cases, followed by age group 6-15 years with 100 (18.7%) cases.

Read more: Combating HIV/AIDS: Sindh allocates Rs1 billion for patients’ welfare

According to the Program Manager of Sindh’s AIDS Control Program, Dr. Sikander Ali, the prime object for the spread of the virus was the reuse of syringes at local clinics and district health hospitals.

Dr. Masood Solangi further stated that screening is going on at THQ Hospital, Ratodero by SACP. It is feared that more cases of HIV may appear as the screening is going on. Experts opine that since the population is of a larger scale and fake doctors generally do not care about used or new syringes in the local hospital, it may cause a great loss.

Health Department and Health care commission with the support of the District Administration has sealed unauthorized laboratories, blood banks, and clinics, which are being run by quacks. “Soon we will Establish HIV/AIDs ART Treatment Center at Shaikh Zaid children Hospital Larkana,” said Dr. Solangi.

Medical experts believe this outbreak has been beneficial since it exposed the lack of awareness and recourses to deal with. “The only good thing about the outbreak has been that it laid bare the multiple flaws in the system that the government with the support of U.N. agencies needs to address,” said Dr. Fatima Mir, a pediatric infectious disease expert working at the Aga Khan University in Karachi. She was one of the first medical workers to help with the outbreak in Ratodero.

“What the outbreak in Ratodero says about Pakistan’s health care is that infection control is poor or nonexistent. Pakistan’s health care system is now trying to integrate infection control as a formal part of the system,” Dr. Mir added.

Read more: AIDS in Sindh: PM Khan should take notice – Public Health Experts

Zaigham Khan, a development expert who writes a column for the newspaper The News, noted that Pakistan spends less than 1 percent of its G.D.P. on health care and that only one doctor is available for every 6,000 people, mostly concentrated in urban areas. “Pakistan is facing a full-blown public health crisis, mainly rooted in ineffective governance and dominance of special interests,” Mr. Khan said.

Experts believe, until the government in Sindh is serious to deal with HIV cases, the magnitude of the disease may increase in the coming days. It demands seriousness and immediate actions in order to be controlled and eliminated. Unlike the recent days, when Khursheed Shah of PPP was inviting Nawaz Sharif to Sindh for treatment, PPP is expected to take the matter of HIV seriously and must pay heed on policy formation.