Virtually every sector of public life speaks volumes about the incompetence of the Sindh government. In a daylong blood screening drive nine more cases, including eight children, of HIV positive patients have surfaced in Larkana district. The recent addition of children to the list of HIV affected individuals is a shocking development. While the officials of the health department met to tackle the problem and make people aware of how to avoid catching HIV; however, the political leadership in the province is indifferent to the rise of HIV cases, it seems so. The sad conclusion is only made after observing that the surfacing of 140 HIV positive cases early this year in Hyderabad, another district of Sindh, went unnoticed. Although the officials of Peoples Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI) communicated the data of these individuals to the Sindh health authorities, the provincial health authorities took no action.

And political leadership in the province? The inaction on the part of the Peoples Party Pakistan (PPP) is deplorable. The chairman of the incumbent ruling party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, finds time to challenge Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) on economic and political fronts, but seems to have no time for even issuing instructions to the Chief Minister of Sindh to call a high-level meeting to probe the epidemic, leave alone making a demand from him to intervene in the matter directly. The health department says that quacks are the single major cause of the spread of the disease. While we are grateful for this piece of information, where is the action against these people who are playing with the lives of the people? The inaction of the authorities, the indifference of the political leadership that is ruling the province for the third consecutive term, has encouraged a whole lot of quacks to risk people’s lives.

Though, at the moment, the HIV positive cases are coming out of Sindh; however, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that Pakistan is registering approximately 20,000 new HIV infections annually. Pakistan’s registering such a high number every year is the highest among all the countries in the region. The sad fact is that HIV has never been a priority program in the provincial and national health systems. While the Sindh government needs to declare a medical emergency in the province to circumscribe the spread of the disease, the health departments in the rest of the provinces need to take actions in advance to limit the spread of this deadly disease.