KARACHI   -   State Minister for National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza on Friday said the HIV outbreak in Ratodero must not be politicised and be taken as a wake-up call for the entire country.

Addressing a joint press conference, along with Sindh Health Minister, Dr Azra Pechuho, WHO official Dr Oliver Morgan and UNAIDS’ Dr Eamonn Murphy, he said underlying causes of all blood-borne infections including HIV as well as hepatitis B and C are not restricted to Sindh but are similar across the country.

This, he said equally holds true for all communicable diseases and hence needed concerted efforts to avert situation turning into emergency with major focus on prevention.

Dr Mirza on behalf of Prime Minister, Imran Khan said the federal government stood with the people of Sindh and was committed to assist provincial authorities in addressing the challenge.

Reiterating that federal government would provide Sindh all needed support and assistance to address the health related challenges, he said at current point of time there was need for pediatric solutions in terms of ARV medicines for children inflicted with HIV.

“Assistance or support needed in terms of diagnostic, in particular context of screening kits, and treatment would be duly facilitated by the federal government, said Dr Zafar Mirza.

Referring to the findings of the international team of experts about causes of HIV in Ratodero, he said hypothesis have reconfirmed the initial observation attributing the outbreak to reused syringes and infected needles. This, he said demanded regulatory intervention, administrative measures to streamline therapeutic approach coupled with behavioral changes at community level. “Sindh Health Minister has just shared with you the steps taken in the province and we hope that this would work,” he commented.

The minister said provincial health care commissions should work coherently and in a coordinated manner. In reply to a question, he said many of the pharmaceutical companies in the country producing anti viral drugs are expected to be capable enough to come forward with ARV preparations following needed modifications.

Sindh Health Minister, Dr Azra Pechuho shared in details the steps taken by the provincial government to address the challenge encompassing strengthening and activation of provincial health commission to address the menace of quackery and reported misuse of licenses issued to qualified medical practitioner. Capacity building of Sindh Safe Blood Transfusion Authority and Drug Regulatory Authority coupled with strict vigilance to ensure safe disposal of hospital waste were said to be among other essential components of the efforts. Regular awareness cum training session for doctors, nurses and paramedics was said to be also part of the envisaged endeavor and that this was already initiated in Larkana and Karachi with other districts to follow soon.