The sudden surge in the identification of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the Larkana district of Sindh is enough to tell us the sad story of the public health system in the province. Now if the public health situation in Larkana – not forgetting that the city is the political capital of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which is ruling the province since 2008 – is broken to such a level, then one can imagine the public health situation in the rest of the cities in Sindh.

As far as the surge in HIV cases is concerned, for sure, many factors are playing their role – for instance, faulty blood transfusions, medical malpractice and unsafe sexual practice. However, if the government does not take responsibility for all these, who will then come forward to protect the citizens? It is a shame that the government could not ensure regulation of safe injection equipment- which is the most primary rule for any basic health facility.

The ruling party, despite being in power for more than a decade, couldn’t fix the health system in the province. The performance of the relevant authorities and Sindh government in providing health facilities to the public is below satisfactory. Despite expiring two terms as the ruling party, PPP could not bring order in the conditions of primary and secondary levels of health facilities. Instead, to get away with the burden of responsibility, the provincial government is increasingly relying on the privatisation of different health facilities.

Privatisation is a double-edged sword, as we all know. On the one hand, making the health sector a commodity by default makes it impossible for the poor to find cheap and quality medical treatment. On the other hand, given that privatisation means minimum interference from the state in the “health market”, a mushroom growth of quacks is only natural. And in the present surge in the cases of aids, no other cause but quackery was the leading factor behind the outbreak of HIV-positive cases.

The standard practice in Pakistan is that the government does not plan to prevent the outbreak of such an unfortunate event. The authorities come in action when an incident occurs. When this is the situation in the province, then PPP needs to set Islamabad politics aside to take immediate notice of what could become an epidemic. The party needs to question itself on its inability to change the ever-deteriorating health system in the province.