KARACHI - More than 20 people died of HIV/AIDS across the province over the last six months, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho apprised the provincial assembly on Friday. Although the assembly sitting was adjourned till Monday without any of main agenda being finished, replies given the by the minister in order of the day would be considered as answered.

Responding to a query by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Khurram Sher Zaman, the minister informed that 889 HIV cases were reported during last six months. However, she added, the number of casualties was 22 instead of 52, the figure put up by Zaman for confirmation. Speaking on the measures being taken by the health department to tackle the disease, Pechuhu said that HIV related intervention and service delivery packages are being implemented and monitored.

She said they would ensure that people living with HIV have more access to free of cost medical and social support so that adherence to Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) reaches to 90 per cent by the end of year 2019-20. “Family health centers would also be developed by June 2020 and availability of service delivery packages for most at risk population (MARP) be ensured at district level to control or minimize the incidence of HIV /AIDS,” she added.

The minister said that HIV care coverage would also increased up to 80 per cent in high risk groups by expanding services through developing 378 health awareness centers at basic health units, rural health centers and Taluka headquarters’ hospitals. Besides, Ms Pechuho informed that 24 health centers and nine tertiary care family health centers would be established at district headquarters and teaching schools respectively.

To another question, the minister said anti-measles vaccination campaign was completed ‘successfully’ across the province which was monitored by UNICEF and WHO. The coverage in Dadu remained ‘101’ per cent, she added while replying the question of Zaman who asked as if the campaign was failed in Dadu district.

Separately, the minister replied that 342 and 324 students were admitted for MBBS in Sindh Medical College and Dow Medical College respectively during 2018. Similarly the numbers of BDS students enrolled in Sindh Medical College and Dow Medical College are 53 and 50 respectively.

HEALTH UNITS GET 10 AMBULANCES

Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, minister for health and population welfare, distributed 10 ambulances to PPHI Sindh BHU Plus at a ceremony held today at PPHI Sindh Head Office in Karachi.

PPHI Sindh, a company set up under section 42 of the Companies Act 2017 (formerly the Companies Ordinance, 1984), is working under an agreement with the Government of Sindh. The objective of establishing the organization was to revitalize health services in rural Sindh. The immediate goal was to ensure that health facilities, handed over to PPHI, are fully functional, providing health services to all persons within their reach.

On Friday at the ceremony, Dr Pechuho gave the keys to Medical Officers and drivers of the respective BHU Plus. The ambulances will serve three main objectives; free of cost mobility of pregnant women for delivery, mobility of severely acute malnutrition children and also tend to accidental emergencies on roads.

Dr Azra Pechuho applauding the efforts of PPHI Sindh said, “The Department of Health acknowledges PPHI’s commitment towards improving health indicators in Sindh. We are establishing a well-integrated strategy to work together and make basic health facilities easily accessible to the underprivileged communities in Sindh.”

Ghulam Ali Soomro, Chief Executive Officer – PPHI Sindh, said, ‘“PPHI Sindh’s immediate focus is on reducing delayed patient mobility and transfers to and from health facility which usually costs us lives. We have mobilized the additional resources to ensure that medical care is effectively accessible to everyone in need.”

PPHI Sindh has distributed 193 ambulances to various BHU Plus in the past. Today’s number brings the total to 203.