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July 19, 2019

‘Sindh govt allocated Rs600m to control HIV’


July 19, 2019

The Sindh government has allocated Rs600 million to control the spread of HIV in the province and also established an endowment fund of Rs1 billion for the rehabilitation of the HIV-affected people.

This was stated by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday as he presided over a meeting with a delegation of Gilead Sciences, a US-based biopharmaceutical company. The delegation was led by the company’s vice president, Clifford Samuel, and comprised Senior Director South Asia Hema Srinivasan and Senior Director Government Affairs Asia Pacific Caludio Lilienfeld. The meeting was also attended by Ferozsons Lab Chief Executive Officer Osman Khalid Waheed.

The CM told the meeting that when he heard about the presence of some HIV-affected people in the Naudero area of Larkana district, he despatched special teams there to conduct screening. “We preferred to screen the population of the area instead of putting the matter under the carpet,” he said.

Shah said a total of 32,151 people were screened for HIV, of whom 936, including 770 children and 166 adults, tested positive. He added that 47 percent of the HIV patients were male and 53 per cent female.

The CM informed the meeting that most of the persons who tested positive for HIV were children. Fifty six per cent of the patients were under five years while 26 per cent were between five and 14 years, he said, adding that 16 per cent of the patients were in the age bracket of 15-45 years and only two per cent were over 45 years.

Talking about the measures taken by the Sindh government to deal with the issue, Shah said a new Paediatrics Treatment Centre had been established at the Children Hospital Larkana and another similar centre was being set up at Ratodero.

He also informed the meeting that the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority (SBTA) had launched an operation against illegal blood banks in the province and clinics run by quacks were being sealed.

“We have introduced auto-lock syringes in Larkana,” he said.

Shah said that international NGOs and agencies like Unicef and the World Health Organisation (WHO) had been taken on board for technical support. He added that the Aga Khan University hospital, the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation and other institutions had also been providing support for treatment, screening, and capacity building of medical officers and technical staff.

It was pointed out that a WHO mission had visited Larkana for one week where it focused on testing and treatment of HIV and disseminated hands-on training to physicians at the HIV treatment centres.

The CM thanked the WHO for arranging three missions in response to the HIV outbreak and providing necessary medicines for 600 HIV positive children for three months. He also thanked other local and international bodies, including Unicef, Global Fund, UNAIDS, USAID, Nai Zindagi Trust, AKUH, SIUT, DUHS and others, for providing maximum support to his government in its endeavours to stop the spread of HIV and treat the affected people.

The Gilead Sciences vice president offered the CM his organisation’s help to deal with the HIV issue, to which Shah directed Health Secretary Saeed Awan to hold a follow-up meeting with the Gilead Science delegation and discuss where their support was required.

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