Sindh, WHO step up efforts to tackle HIV outbreak
KARACHI:Sindh government and WHO experts have stepped up efforts to tackle an outbreak of HIV in Sindh province, especially in Ratedero taluka, where high ratio of cases have surfaced, PPI learnt Saturday.
“HIV cases have also surfaced in Moro after hitting Ratodero, Larkana and Shikarpur. Two men and a woman were found infected with the disease in Moro. Thirteen AIDS patients have so far died in Ratodero taluka after screening began, gripping the area with panic,” Dileep Kumar, a resident of Moro told PPI.
Jamal Dawoodpoto, a resident of Ratodero said: “An AIDS-hit child died in a village near Ratodero yesterday. Spreading panic among the residents of Ratodero taluka.”
The people of this region have called for imposing health emergency in Ratodero taluka so as to save lives of children.
The outbreak was first reported on 25 April 2019, and a major HIV screening programme started on 28 April. It was expanded on 8 May, with additional health workers being deployed. Testing is ongoing.
So far 733 HIV cases have been identified in Ratodero since April 25. Of which 598 are children and 135 adults. So far 25,433 people have been tested in Ratodero since 25th April, 2019.
A 5-year boy Muzamil Hakro died of AIDS in village Ghulam Hussan Hakro. The majority are among children and young people: more than half those affected are children under the age of 5. This poses a particular challenge. Prior to this outbreak, there were just over 1200 children diagnosed with HIV and receiving antiretroviral treatment in the whole of Pakistan.
On 16 May local authorities established a new antiretroviral treatment clinic for children in Larkana.
Key tasks for the WHO-led team will include: ascertaining the source of the outbreak and controlling it; providing technical expertise, particularly in the areas of HIV testing, paediatric HIV treatment and family counselling; and ensuring adequate supplies of rapid diagnostic tests and antiretroviral medicines for both adults and children, as well as single-use needles and syringes.
The WHO mission will include experts in emergency response management, epidemiology, HIV clinical care, and infection prevention and control from WHO as well as the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN). The team will work closely with the Ministry and partners, including the Aga Khan University, Pakistan’s Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP), UNAIDS and UNICEF in Larkana.