KARACHI      -     Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that he has allocated Rs 600 million to contain and control the spread of HIV and also established Rs1 billion Endowment Fund for rehabilitation of HIV affected people.

This he said while presiding over a meeting of American-based Gilead Sciences delegation led by Clifford Samuel Vice President of the organization on Thursday. The others in the delegation were Hema Srinivasan Senior Director South Asia, Caludio Lilienfeld Senior Director Government affairs Asia Pacific and Osman Khalid Waheed CEO of Ferozsons Lab.

The chief minister said that when he heard presence of some HIV affected people in Naudero of Larkana district he dispatched special teams to conduct screening. “We preferred to screen the population of the area instead of putting the matter under the carpet,” he said.

Murad said that 32,151 people were screened, of them 936 including 770 children and 166 adults were detected HIV positive. He added out of 936 patients, 47 percent were male, 53 percent female.  Disclosing the age bracket of the HIV patients, the chief minister said that out of 936 HIV positive cases 56 percent patients were of five years age, 26 percent between 5 to 14 years, 16 percent 15 to 45 percent and two percent of 45 years and above.

Talking about his government response, he said that a new Pediatrics Treatment Center has been established at Children Hospital Larkana and another similar center was being set up at THQ Ratodero. Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority (SBTA) has launched operation against illegal blood banks, and quack clinics have been sealed.

He added that vertical programmes such as Lady Health Workers, EPI, nutrition, MNCH, Hepatitis have been actively engaged at Ratodero and Larkana. “We have introduced auto-lock syringes at Larkana,” he said.

Murad said that international NGOs and UN agencies like UNICEF, WHO, UNAID, GFATM, USAID-JSI have been taken on board for technical support. He added that Aga Khan University hospital, SIUT and other institutions have been made involved in providing support in treatment, screening, capacity building of concerned medical officers and technical staff.

It was also pointed out that WHO Mission visited Larkana, Ratodero for one week and focused on testing and treatment and disseminated hands on training to physicians at HIV Treatment Centers. The chief minister thanked WHO for arranging three missions in response to HIV outbreak and providing necessary medicines for 600 HIV positive children for three months. He also thanked UNICEF, NACP, Global Fund, UNAIDS, UNFPA, USAID, Nai Zindagi Trust, AKUH< SIUT, DUHS and APLHIV for giving full support to his government for containing HIV spread and treatment of the affected people.

Gilead Sciences Vice President Clifford Samuel offered Sindh chief minister of his organisations support. The chief minister directed Secretary Health Saeed Awan to hold a follow-up meeting with the Gilead Science delegation and discuss where their support was required. “I don’t want duplication in services but it must be specified where needed,” he said.