H.I.V. Outbreak in Pakistan Affects Almost 900 Children

Pakistani pediatrician, Muzaffar Ghanghro, has been charged with medical malpractice due to his misuse of syringes and IV needles that have cause the spread of H.I.V. This H.I.V. outbreak in Pakistan raises questions on its healthcare system.


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The outbreak initiated in the city of Ratodero, with a count of more than 1,112 infected people out of the 36,000 tested thus far. A more unfortunate number is that around 900 of those are children under the age of 12. Infectious disease control is not a strong suit of the Pakistani healthcare system.


As for Dr. Ghanghro, he has been cleared of intentionally starting this epidemic. The district inspector general, Irfan Ali Baloch, says, “A team of medical experts came and interviewed him. The medical board determined that he did not intentionally spread H.I.V., but his clinic was in such a condition that the protocols were not being maintained.”


The details on how Ghanghro is still practicing is unclear. Ghanghro owned a private clinic before it was shut down on these allegations and is now somehow working in a government-run hospital. It is illegal to reuse syringes, and there isn’t even bail available for the offense, which makes the situation all the more confusing. Despite Sindh Province health care officials denying renewing his medical license, Ghanghro has said that his license is renewed. He has also said that he has many patients, but officials have also negated that report. With all the inconsistency, it is barely surprising that there is an H.I.V. outbreak in Pakistan.


One of the first doctors to note the outbreak was Dr. Imran Akbar Arbani. He told The New York Times, “Unless these quack doctors, barbers, and dentists are checked, the number of incidents of H.I.V. infection will continue going up.”


This uproar has just come to the attention of the media, but it is not the first time there have been H.I.V. related incidents. At least 35 infected children have died since April of this year. A month later, a man strangled his infected wife to death. Another girl was tied to a tree by her family to stop the spread of the disease.


With all these incidents and the H.I.V. outbreak, especially in children, there are a few problems that come to light. Firstly, the apparent problem is the immorality of medical professionals who are either unequipped or untrained in infection control. The next issue is the government’s inefficiency in regulating their hospitals and private practices. And possibly the biggest problem of them all is the poverty-stricken citizens of Pakistan that cannot afford proper treatment and have no choice but to go to cheap doctors who may or may not have the proper training. But because they are cornered, they have to take the word of “professional” who’s offering them a bargain and suffer the consequences.






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