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HIV outbreak: Dr Mirza says registered cases up to 25,000 in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza on Sunday said that the cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are quite lesser than the estimated figures, ARY News reported.

Dr Zafar Mirza, while addressing a press conference, said, “As per our estimation, 163,000 people were suffering from HIV but the registered number of patients are 25,000.”

“Larkana AIDS [Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome] cases are the largest ever outbreak in the history,” Dr Mirza said.

The special assistant said that unsafe blood transfusion is the major reason behind the spread of the virus. However, he said that the authorities were still investigating to find out other reasons for the outbreak.

“A 10-member international team comprising AIDS experts from World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will arrive in Karachi in few days,”

He added that wrong usage of syringes spread the virus into children as syringes are being reused after repacking. Zafar said, “It is alarming that a large number of children become victim of AIDS as 537 children aged between 2-12 years were affected by the virus despite their parents are not suffering from HIV.”

Read More: HIV Crisis: WHO team to arrive Pakistan on May 28

Zafar said that he visited Larkana on May 23 where 21,375 people were screened for HIV. The special assistant said that he is in contact with Sindh health minister Dr Azra Pechuhu. “Sindh government is being provided medicines and 50,00 kits are ordered.”

While detailing complications faced by children if suffering from HIV, Dr Mirza said, “An affected kid used to take medicine for the whole life. Sindh government needs to devise long-term planning and the federal government will continue its support in this regards.

Health sector cannot be left dependent on foreign funding and reformations would be made in the sector soon.

He said that a team of international experts were called after consultation with the Sindh health minister which would reach to Karachi in next 2-3 days.

“A 10-member international team comprising AIDS experts from World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will arrive in Karachi in few days,” he announced.

Read More: HIV endemic in Larkana resulted in closure of 820 fake clinics in Sindh

Mirza said that PM Imran Khan had paid surprise visits to many hospitals yesterday and he will make a big announcement for health sector in two weeks. The special assistant said that health sector cannot be left dependent on foreign funding and reformations would be made in the sector soon. He added that there is a need to regularise private health sector. The official said that the government is going to make model healthcare system where patients will not have to go directly to the hospital.

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