Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Pakistan's Latest Health Emergency: HIV/AIDS Outbreak in Sindh

Pakistan is dealing with a new health emergency with the HIV/AIDS outbreak. Nearly 700 people, most of them children, have so far tested HIV positive in Ratodero, Sindh, according to Pakistan's health officials. Authorities allege that this HIV outbreak started when local doctor Muzaffar Ghangharo, who has AIDS, infected patients in early April.

"Initial investigations reveal that used syringes are being repacked, which may not only grow significantly the number of HIV cases but also other diseases," said Federal Health Minister Zafar Mirza.

A joint 11-member rapid response team of health experts from the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have just arrived in Pakistan to support the emergency response to the nation's “biggest” outbreak of HIV infections in a southern district where more than 700 people, mostly children, have been diagnosed over the past month, according to Voice of America.

Minister Mirza believes that reported cases of HIV/AIDS in Pakistan are only the tip of the iceberg. He says that official estimates put the number of HIV/AIDS carriers in the country at around 163,000. “But only 25,000 of them are registered with our national and provincial HIV/AIDS treatment centers, and out of them, merely 16,000 visit the programs routinely to receive their medicine,” the minister was reported as saying.

 With questionable medical practices in private as well as public hospitals, Pakistan's health system is inadequate for dealing with serious health crises like the HIV/AIDS outbreak. However, the US CDC and WHO have had a lot of experience in fighting HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa where it continues to be the biggest contributor to disease burdens and premature deaths.

Pakistan needs to work with WHO and US CDC and use the opportunity to learn from their experience in terms of prevention and antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS. Such learning could also help improve the overall health care practices and outcomes in the country. Right now, time is of the essence in identifying all current cases for quickly controlling further spread of the disease.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistani Children's Health Indicators

Disease Burdens in Pakistan

Polio in Pakistan

Polio Workers Under Attack in Pakistan

Pakistan's Lady Health Workers Best in the World 

American CIA Sponsored Fake Vaccination Campaign


Anonymous said...

A major factor that must be accounted for in the overall HIV transmission scenario is the rampant use of therapeutic injections, often with non-sterile injection equipment. There are an estimated 800 million therapeutic injections given annually in Pakistan or approximately 4.5 per capita. This is among the highest in the World.
A significant proportion of these are reused. This has led to the prevalence of Hepatitis C infection (which is nearly exclusively transmitted via blood exposures) to become >5% nationwide, although this seems to have stabilized at a national level. Conservatively this suggests around 150,000 new HCV infections annually, leading to the conclusion that HIV can also potentially spread via this route as well. Indeed recent community based outbreaks in Punjab suggest that the process may have already started.

Is this the tip of an iceberg?

Edhi F

nayyer ali said...

The practice of giving useless injections to patients to satisfy the perceived need for a treatment and to give the doctors additional revenue source has to stop. There needs to be a public education campaign about the uselessness of most injections and the extreme danger of reused needles. These victims, mostly children, were infected for no reason. The doctor here is to blame but his behavior is just an example of a major systemic problem.

Rks said...

This is just a tip of the iceberg..... given the taboo, most pakistanis would hide this disease and refuse to take tests.

Riaz Haq said...

Dr Zafar Mirza, Fed #Health Minister, visits Getz #Pharma, #Pakistan’s only WHO-accredited pharmaceutical company, gets assurance that Getz Pharma would help address the problems of shortages of #medicines for the treatment of #HIV #AIDS https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/485535-dr-zafar-mirza-visits-getz-pharma-pakistans-only-who-accredited-pharmaceutical-company

KARACHI: Dr Zafar Ullah Mirza, State Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC), visited the only pharmaceutical company in Pakistan, whose manufacturing facility has recently been prequalified and accredited by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Getz Pharma, is also the largest exporter of medicines from Pakistan. The company has been awarded the Prime Minister’s highest export trophy in the Pharmaceuticals category for the past 14 consecutive years.

During the nearly three hours visit, the minister toured and reviewed company’s Manufacturing/Production Facility, Quality Control laboratories, Stability Area, and Technical/ Utility Areas.

Dr Zafar Mirza, who has 15-years of experience of working with WHO, appreciated the high standards of production and quality assurance of the company and congratulated the management for obtaining both the WHO prequalification as well as the PIC/S accreditation and putting Pakistan on the map of the select few countries whose facilities and products are prequalified by WHO.

The minister discussed with the management how to improve the availability of the Essential Medicines in Pakistan in general and the local production for the treatment of HIV.

The CEO assured the minister that Getz Pharma would help address the problems of shortages of Essential Medicines, especially the medicines for the treatment of HIV.

Dr Zafar Mirza exchanged views on the issues facing the pharmaceutical sector and brainstormed ideas to boost exports of medicines. He reiterated that the government is keen to transform the health and pharmaceutical sector and increase the exports of medicines from Pakistan.

The minster urged the pharmaceutical companies to increase their exports.

The company’s management shared their plans to increase their exports in the next few years.