Punjab has started campaign to control blood-borne diseases through a comprehensive campaign that involves anti-quackery measures, awareness and registration of barbers, salons, hair dressers and monitoring of labs and blood banks.
Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said: “Punjab maintains a robust disease surveillance system. Desk analysis of surveillance data of the Punjab AIDS Control Programme (PACP) reveals that number of blood-borne infections is on the rise in certain districts of the province, where incidentally quackery is reported to be more common.
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Dr Rashid said that the PACP conducts large scale screenings of Hepatitis B, C, HIV and syphilis in all jails, at bus and truck stations and for key high risk groups across the province. Based on that data, the department has coordinated with other departments to scale up anti-quackery measures and start an awareness campaign, especially for barbers and hair dressers.”
The special focus of the campaign is on laboratories, blood banks and dentists. The Health Information Service Delivery Unit (HISDU), Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, has also developed an application for data gathering on daily basis. An important part of this campaign is to sensitise barbers, beauty salons, massage centres and physiotherapy units.
The minister further said: “We are fully cognisant of the situation in areas having high prevalence of blood-borne infectious diseases. The relevant departments in districts bordering Sindh have also been directed to intensify surveillance and take necessary measures. The PACP has been directed to provide counseling and treatment facilities to patients coming from other provinces.”
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The PACP is providing counseling and treatment facilities to all patients testing positive for HIV/AIDS. “Currently we have over 8300 active patients receiving regular treatment from the Program. The majority of patients are from Dera Ghazi Khan, Gujrat, Lahore, Sargodha and Faisalabad,” she said.
The PACP recently organised a mass awareness campaign under which it organised Stage play and poster competitions in leading universities across the province. The PACP has screened more than 90,000 jail inmates, 37000 bus and truck drivers and coordinates with other programs for screenings of general population. The Programme has initiated special service delivery packages for Injecting drug users, transgenders, female sex workers and other high risk groups.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2019.
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