Pakistan witnesses 8,074 AIDS/HIV Cases in 18 months

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: As many as 8,074 AIDS/HIV Cases were reported in Pakistan in last 18 months; however, the number of affected patients could actually be higher, the National Assembly was informed on Thursday.

During the question-answer session in National Assembly, the Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar informed that from January 2016 to June 2017, 503 AIDS/HIV Cases were reported in the Federal Capital, 3,878 in Punjab, 2,521 in Sindh, 881 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 291 in Balochistan.

The minister said the number of unregistered affected people was much higher than the reported as the virus was such a stigma that patients avoided to disclose.

However, Saira Afzal Tarar, due to effective strategy of the government in collaboration with private sector non-governmental organizations, a comprehensive campaign had been launched to create awareness about the disease, following which the patients started consulting doctors and reporting for treatment.

While commenting on a supplementary question, Saira termed the dengue fever a “catastrophe,” which the Punjab and Sindh provinces managed to overcome to great extent with collaborative efforts.

Tarar said the federal government had already offered the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to extend all technical and surveillance support to the province to tackle the Dengue disease and stop its larva breeding.

The minister said even the federal government was ready to arrange foreign assistance for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to get rid of the dengue mosquito.

The health minister said a surveillance team was being formed to stop breaking out of seasonal and other lethal diseases like dengue fever.

In reply to a question, she said after emergence of the surgical stent scam, the ministry set up a Drug Regulatory Authority if Pakistan (DRAP) Registry to maintain real time data as every stent carried a number which would help end supply of sub-standard stents.

While commenting on action against sale of spurious drugs, the minister said DRAP in collaboration with local authorities in different areas of the Country conducted 5,000 raids and imposed millions of rupees fine, adding that for the first time, drug courts awarded two major penalties of 15 and 10 years imprisonment to the elements involved in this heinous crime.

Tarar said from January 2015 to June 2017, around 8,840 premises and shops were sealed on ground of unregistered, illegal, spurious, counterfeit and other violations of DRAP Act, 2012 and the Drugs Act 1976.

The health minister underlined the need to upgrade the drug courts by bringing salaries, perks and privileges magistrates at par with judiciary so that they could perform in a more efficient manner.