H.I.V is a dreadful word itself and being infected by it is, probably, the worst health crisis an individual can have. Also, It could be very hard on the family of the person infected by the virus and in this Pakistani city, there is one in almost every half dozen families that is affected by this epidemic. In the Ratodero, a small city in Pakistan, nearly 900 children are facing the dire consequences of this unfortunate outbreak.
The sudden increase in the number of sick children, that were not recovering by the standard treatments, alarmed the parents and the health officials and the diagnosis results, in April, left everyone devastated as the city was the victim of the H.I.V. epidemic. In further evaluation, more than 1,100 citizens of the city, of the total population of almost 2.2 lakhs, were tested positive for the H.I.V. and 900 are less than the age of 12, among them. According to the officials, only a fraction of the entire population is tested so far and real figures could be expected to be higher.
Initially, a pediatrician was blamed for this, alleging that he was reusing the syringes. A local journalist, Gulbahar Shaikh, who broke the news of the outbreak, earlier, in April when he saw his neighbors and acquaintances rushing for the test and everyone seemed to know a sick child bedridden with fever who was not recovering. “It was devastating”, he said.
In further investigation, the officials found that many of the victims had taken the treatment from the same pediatrician, named Muzaffar Ghanghro who treats mostly poor patients, is alleged to be the root cause of the outbreak.
Many families, with extremely terrible financial conditions, had taken to their sick children to the pediatrician, Mr. Ghanghro, who was the cheapest choice for them as he charged very little for the treatment. He treated all the children of a citizen, Imtiaz Jalbani, and four out of the six got infected with the virus and two of them died.
Imtiaz, who works as a laborer for the living, accused Mr. Ghanghro of reusing the syringe taken out of the trash and said the pediatrician yelled at him when he protested as he was too poor to afford the new syringe.
“The doctor asked us to go for another doctor if we didn’t approve of his treatment”, Mr. Imtiaz said. “My wife and I had to starve ourselves to pay for the medicine.”
The pediatrician was arrested and facing charges of negligence, manslaughter and causing unintentional harm but he is yet to be convicted and is on the bail. In an interview, he claimed that he never reused syringes and he is innocent. He is also working at a government hospital of the city after the renewal of his medical certificate despite the law suggests that the bail can’t be granted in such offense.
According to the health officials, many doctors reuse the syringes and I.V. needles, barbers don’t change the razor blade for different customers and dentists, on the sidewalks, use unsterilized equipment. Moreover, such activities are not rare in the entire Pakistan which might be the main cause behind the soaring figures of the statistics of H.I.V. infected people across the country.