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HIV outbreak stifles youth in Pakistan

by Betul Duru - Copy Editor
Tue, Nov 5th 2019 09:15 pm
An extensive number of Pakistani children (above) are faced with coming under control to the effects of HIV amid an outbreak following the reuse of syringes. The amount of impacted children and adults continues to rise in the southern parts of Pakistan.
An extensive number of Pakistani children (above) are faced with coming under control to the effects of HIV amid an outbreak following the reuse of syringes. The amount of impacted children and adults continues to rise in the southern parts of Pakistan.

The reuse of syringe needles by a pediatrician led to an outbreak of HIV in an impoverished southern Pakistani city. Close to 900 children under the age of 12 tested HIV positive in Ratodero, Pakistan as a result of Dr. Muzaffar Ghanghro, a rogue pediatrician’s unsanitized reuse of syringe needles. 

So far there seems to be 1,112 confirmed cases of Ratodero residents infected with the HIV virus. However, the majority of the population has not been tested for the virus and officials fear the number could be exceptionally high. Ghanghro denies using the same syringe multiple times and insists that he is innocent according to The New York Times. Ghanghro is being accused for manslaughter, negligence and causing harm to his patients. 

The situation came to the parents’ attention when their effected children contracted fevers that wouldn’t recede for days. 

“Everyone seemed to know a family with a sick child,” The New York Times stated. 

Pakistan isn’t known for being a rich country, and Ratodero is home to some of the poorest citizens. 

“Mr. Ghanghro was the cheapest option in this city, charges 20 cents a visit for the many parents here who earn less than $60 a month, ” The New York Times stated. 

The discovering behind Ghanghro's reuse of syringe needles came following a sighting of him collecting needles from a garbage can.

“Mr. Jalbani, a laborer, said he first grew alarmed when he saw Mr. Ghanghro rummage through the trash for a syringe to use on Ali, his 6-year-old son, who is also infected,” according to The New York Times. “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.”

According to The New York Times, when Jalbani questioned Ghanghro’s method of treatment, Ghanghro snapped back by saying “If you do not want my treatment, go to another doctor.”

According to Reuters Ghanghro was arrested on April 30 and was charged with unintentional murder. Ghanghro’s crime isn’t an offence eligible for bail. 

However, according to The Independent, Ghanghro “is now working as a GP [General Practitioner] at a public hospital on the city’s outskirts after renewing his medical certificate.” 

On April 25 the local administration was notified about the increase in HIV among its citizens by the media, according to the World Health Organization. From April 25 through June 28, 2019, “a total of 30,192 people have been screened for HIV, of which 876 were found positive. During the screening, several risk factors were identified, including: unsafe intravenous injections during medical procedures; unsafe child delivery practices; unsafe practices at blood banks; poorly implemented infection control programs; and improper collection, storage, segregation and disposal of hospital waste.”

As the Pakistani government took a long time to respond to the case, outside help has been extended to the country in the hopes of taming the virus. 

“With the help of U.N. agencies, a state-of-the-art AIDS control center is being established,” Dr. Achakzai said, to The New York Times. 

Initially Ghanghro was pinned down as the doctor that spread an irreversible sickness to his patients with his careless practice; however, it is likely he isn’t the sole reason the HIV virus spread throughout the region. 

“Bad practices he is accused of, including reusing syringes and IV needles, are so widespread across Pakistan that the entire health care system needs better regulation,” according to The New York Times. “But Ratodero is so poor that such practices are likely to be much more common, as residents struggle to make ends meet and scrimp wherever they can.” 

Solely blaming Ghanghro for the spread of HIV would be absurd since the misuse of medical devices is widespread in Pakistan.

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