Sindh health minister blames doctor as HIV cases climb to 90

Opposition walks out of Sindh Assembly citing lack of quorum even though quorum was complete


Hafeez Tunio May 03, 2019
Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho. PHOTO: National Assembly

KARACHI: Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho informed the Sindh Assembly on Thursday that a medical doctor has spread HIV among patients in Ratodero of Larkana district.

"Dr Muzaffar Ghangharo, who runs a clinic in the area is himself an HIV-positive patient," she told the lawmakers, quoting the findings of a committee. "He re-used a syringe and drip-set, transmitting the disease from one patient to another." The doctor has since been arrested and is currently in police custody.

According to the health minister, information regarding 15 persons who had tested positive for the virus came to the fore a few days ago, after which the Sindh government sent a team comprising officials of the World Health Organisation and the health department to Larkana to track the victims. "Around 90 patients, 67 of whom are children, have tested positive for HIV so far," she said, adding the children's ages range between two months and eight years. "Most of the victims are patients of this doctor," she said, adding that her department has directed the Sindh Health Care Commission to start a crackdown against quacks and unregistered doctors operating in the area.

Senate body seeks details of HIV cases in Sindh

Justifying the performance of her ministry, Pechuho said that the government can't reach every nook and cranny of the province to conduct the screening, but will start a campaign so that people can come up to designated camps at the district or divisional level.

On a question regarding the action taken against quacks so far, Pechuho said, "We have shut down more than 20 clinics and laboratories in Ratodero."

Earlier, members of opposition parties criticised the government for its failure to deal with the matter.  Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Sidra Imran submitted a resolution in the assembly, demanding an inquiry into the alarming number of HIV cases in Larkana. "This house is of the opinion that an inquiry report should be submitted in the house and the Sindh government should set up screening centres across Sindh and run awareness campaigns as well as take steps to establish more HIV/AIDS treatment centres," the resolution reads.

Copy culture

The issue of copy culture was also raised in the assembly by PTI MPA Arslan Taj. Moving the call-attention notice, Taj asked education minister Syed Sardar Shah about the leaks of exam papers during the recent Inter Board exam. "This incident was reported multiple times during the recent examinations," he said. "The culture of using unfair means in the examination is rampant in the province. How can you deal with it?" he questioned.

Education Minister Sardar Shah, admitting that the menace of copy culture persisted in the province, said that the invigilators were involved in the affair and the government had also taken action against them. "Further, the CM has also taken serious notice of the matter and ordered an inquiry into it," he added.

Walkout

After the call-attention notice, PTI MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman drew the speaker's attention towards the lack of quorum in the house. The speaker, casting a glance over the treasury and opposition seats, said, "I think the quorum is complete, but you are creating an unnecessary fuss about it."

When the PTI MPA insisted, the speaker ordered his staff to count the members. After secretary counted the members and speaker said, "The quorum is complete. It's up to you now whether you take part in the proceedings or stage a walk out." The opposition members refused to budge and walked out of the session.

Legislation

The assembly also introduced three bills and referred them to the respective standing committees for feedback.  They include the Sindh Public Finance Administration Bill, 2019, Abdul Majid Bhurgri Institute of Language Engineering Bill, 2019 and Aror University of Art, Agriculture, Design and Heritage, Sukkur Bill, 2019.  Later, the speaker adjourned the session till today (Friday). 

Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2019.

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