ISLAMABAD              -          Since the war against coronavirus [COVID-19] is on, the lower house of Parliament on Friday was also informed about the rapid increase of HIV/AIDS cases at a shocking rate of 57 percent in the country.

The registered cases of HIV/AIDS are only 25,000, while the estimated AIDS patients in the country could be 183,000. The infected patients of HIV/AIDS are not coming forward to be registered to avoid stigma.

PML-N’s MNA Mariyam Aurangzeb, on a call-attention notice, drew the attention of the house towards the spread of HIV/AIDS cases at the rate of 57 percent in Pakistan and Philippines.

Most of the countries in the world have controlled HIV/AIDS, but in Pakistan only foreign funding is being used to control it, said the former State Minister for Information, adding that there was a need to increase testing capacity to check HIV/AIDS patients.

Parliamentary Secretary for National Health Services Nausheen Hamid, responding to the concerns raised by the opposition member, said that “there is a big stigma attached to AIDS so people prefer to conceal this disease and only come to get registered in case of critical condition.”

The Parliamentary Secretary said that 45 centers for the treatment of AIDS are working all over the country. “There are around 183,000 estimated AIDS patients, while only 25,000 people are registered,” she said, mentioning that reuse of injection syringes, unsafe blood transfusion and mishandling of hospital waste are the reasons behind spread of this disease.

“In order to reduce cases, our government is taking serious measures about injection safety, one-time use of disposable syringes, safe blood transfusion, and hospital waste management,” she assured the house.

Responding to the concerns, she also said the government has planned to increase awareness by increasing coverage of National AIDS Control Program. “Free of cost treatment is being provided to AIDS patients at designated centres across Pakistan,” she said.

Agriculture sector under pressure

The lawmakers from opposition also raised concerns over the agriculture sector in the country. They said that there was a dire need to take appropriate measures for the farmers of the country to boost up agriculture sector.

PPP-P’s MNA Naveed Qamar requested the Speaker Asad Qaisar to talk to the Prime Minister for solutions to the problems being faced by the agriculture sector, “It is only the Prime Minister who can resolve issues related to the agriculture sector,” he said.

PML-N’s senior MNA Rana Tanveer Hussain asked the chair to take personal interest to promote the agriculture sector. He expressed dismay over current situation of the agriculture sector.

The lawmakers from opposition raised serious concerns over the removal of electricity meters of farmers on non payment of just Rs 2000. “Industries defaulters of millions of rupees are spared but the meters of small farmers are removed,” said an MNA.

Minister for Power Omar Ayub, responding to the concerns raised by the opposition, said the Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed for promotion of the agriculture sector. The distribution companies have been directed to not remove meters of farmers on a short notice.

The chair also directed the minister to arrange a meeting of farmers with the management of the distribution companies.

The Speaker Asad Qaisar, following a walkout from the media gallery, referred issues of firing of journalists who were protesting against closure of a private television channel in front of office of PEMRA to the concerned standing committees of the House.

Earlier, a motion regarding delay in the presentation of the report of the Standing Committee on the Bill further to amend the Loans for Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Purposes Act, 1973 was laid before the house.

MNAs from opposition and government presented reports to amend the Loans for Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Purposes Act, 1973 and the report of the Standing Committee on the Bill further to amend the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 [The Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill.