Ban on Sale of Reusable Injections Sought to Curb Spread of HIV

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Larkana: An immediate ban on sale of reusable injections and safe blood transfusions was urged by stakeholders on Monday at the advocacy and coordination meeting of stakeholders to the HIV outbreak response at taluka Ratodero. The participants stressed on following SOPs for blood screen before blood transfusion, hospital waste disposal management and ensuring fresh, sterile syringes are used.

Under its strategy, the SACP has taken onboard a team of infectious diseases specialists from the MMIDSP and other experts to chalk out a short and long-term strategy to deal with the HIV outbreak with 157 confirmed cases (30 adults and 127 children). The need to enhance capacity of healthcare workers, adherence to injection safety SOPs and the ways and means to implement such good practices was stressed. Suggested interventions include taking community leaders and the media onboard to create awareness about HIV/AIDS as well as Hepatitis, TB and other infections.

The well attended meet – chaired by Commissioner Larkana Saleem Raza Khuhro and moderated by Special Secretary Public Health Sindh, Hafeezullah Abbasi – had DG Health  Dr Masood Solangi, officials of the Sindh health department, National AIDS Control Programme, Sindh AIDS Control Programme in attendance.  Members of the JIT, formed to investigate the case of HIV positive doctor alleged to be spreading the infection by reusing needles, were also present. The meeting was attended by representatives of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan (MMIDSP), Dow University of Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Indus Hospital, Jinnah Sindh Medical University, SBBMU, People’s Public Health Initiative (PPHI), Expanded Immunization Programme (EPI), LHWs, WHO, UNICEF, JSi/USAID, and UNAIDS.

The SACP was represented by its programme manager Dr Sikandar Ali Memon and deputy programme manager Saqib Ali Sheikh. The team of doctors that arrived from Karachi to conduct investigations includes Dr Fatima Mir, Dr Faisal Mehmood, Professor Rehana Siddiqi, Dr Shehla Baqi, Dr Sunil Dodani, Dr Azizullah Khan, Dr Zeeshan Ali and Dr Anwar.

Later, in a session with local media, medical experts urged that HIV reporting should be done in a humane an empathetic manner. The media was urged to help destigmatize the disease and respect the privacy of victims by not sharing the names, photographs and medical reports.