This town in Sindh has an HIV crisis and we need to wake up
People of this city of Sindh have once again found themselves as an epicenter of an HIV outbreak. Not only has this outbreak caused people to be highly alarmed at the widespread number of patients affected by the disease which can be potentially fatal if it’s not managed properly and turns into AIDS, the overwhelming number of children affected is hugely concerning.
Ratodero, Sindh has an HIV crisis and its people are in full panic mode after the overwhelming number of cases
In April, the city of Ratodero was in the news for being the epicenter of an HIV outbreak that overwhelmingly affected children. People of Ratodero were bedridden early this year with raging fevers that resisted treatment. This initiated the feeling of concern and panic among the people of this city, as seemingly, every family came upfront with a sick person.
One in every 200 citizens have tested positive for HIV and the number could still be ‘greater’ because there are still more people to test
About 1,100 citizens have tested positive for the virus, or one in every 200 residents in a new outbreak, according to the New York Times. Almost 900 are just children, even younger than the age of 12.
However, health officials believe that the number is greater than ‘1100’ as only a fraction of the population has been tested so far. This has raised serious concern regarding the criticality of the situation and the question of ‘what next?’
This outbreak is being blamed on one single pediatrician and out of 1100 people at least 900 children are said to be affected
Health officials have blamed one single pediatrician, Muzaffar Ghanghro, for this outbreak and is being said to have reused syringes on his patients, repeatedly.
Mr. Ghanghro, being one of the inexpensive options, had been of service to the city’s poorest families and appeared to be at the center of the outbreak.
A laborer named Jalbani, when interviewed, said he first grew alarmed when he saw Mr. Ghanghro rummage through the trash for a syringe to use on his 6-year-old son, who is also infected. When Mr. Jalbani protested, he said, Mr. Ghanghro snapped at him and told him he was using an old syringe because Mr. Jalbani was too poor to pay for a new one.
The pediatrician, since then, has been arrested and charged by the police with manslaughter, negligence and causing unintentional harm.
However, officials of the Health Department also believe that there are possibly more reasons than just Muzaffar Ghanghro’s negligence for this outbreak.
Upon the Government’s delayed actions, international health worker teams have had to come to the rescue of Sindh from this HIV crisis
Initially, the Government had a rather delayed response to the outbreak because of minimum resources to not only test the residents, but also to treat the patients. World Health Organisation, then, donated hundreds of testing kits and other health-worker teams from different countries made way to the city, to help.
Testing centers, thus, have been set within the government buildings of the city and yellow tents have sprouted up across the city to deal with the influx of terrified residents eager to be tested
The situation of HIV outbreak in Ratodero is the much-needed reflection that the politicians and major departments of Pakistan need to open their eyes to the sufferings of the people of Pakistan. It is also a major alarm that we need to rehaul how we provide sex education to our children, or rather how we never provide proper sex education to our children. Repressive sexuality and a lack of discussion around sexual health has been quoted as a major threat for such outbreaks as we are seeing now.
Yet still, the question of whether this will widen their perspective and allow them to just look beyond their political concerns or not remains.
Cover image via dawn.com / standardmedia.co.ke