Authorities have “gravely underestimated” the scale and scope of how prevalent infectious diseases are in the province of Sindh. According to data released by the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority, 24,088 out of a total of 455,742 individuals who donated blood have been found infected with one or more infectious diseases. The samples were collected from blood banks in 24 districts during the first eight months of 2021. The data further revealed that 1,357 individuals were infected with HIV; 8,155 with hepatitis B; 7,995 with hepatitis C; and 6,142 with syphilis.
Experts are claiming that these are underestimated figures and that the actual numbers are much higher. The available testing kits have a 5% uncertainty of giving a false negative, which is rather significant. These staggering revelations indicate just how abysmal and neglected the healthcare system in the province really is. The blame solely lies on the negligent authorities who have not only failed at maintaining an efficient screening and testing mechanism, but have also not been able to provide cheap and accessible healthcare to the masses.
Since we are in a pandemic, the authorities should have taken extra precaution and the government should have prioritised the healthcare sector over all else. However, we must understand that these numbers represent years and years of mismanagement and negligence. If the situation continues to go unchecked, the rate of spread of infectious diseases could exacerbate out of control. This has an adverse impact on the blood donation system as many patients requiring blood during surgery or blood transfusion can contract harmful diseases. The government needs to seriously consider the advice of healthcare experts and provide blood screening facilities at subsidised rates to the masses. They must not only revamp the screening system but also take prudent measures to curtail the spread of infectious diseases. People who are infected but be provided with quality treatment at a low cost.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2021.
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