HIV Epidemic In Pakistan Must Spur Government To Action, Editorial Says
The Lancet Infectious Diseases: HIV epidemics in Pakistan
“The Lancet Infectious Diseases has received several letters from concerned health professionals in Pakistan about HIV epidemics that appear to have stemmed from unsanitary and unregulated medical practice, usually in isolated, rural towns. … The reports of HIV epidemics in Pakistan linked to health providers (legitimate or not) have highlighted a potentially unappreciated source of the burden of bloodborne infections in the country, which has previously been attributed to transmission among the country’s considerable population of injecting-drug users and sex workers. These reports are concerning for several reasons. First, they could indicate a worrying but potentially addressable knowledge gap in infection control processes and mechanisms of HIV transmission among health workers in Pakistan. Second, they could suggest a severe lapse in regulation of the country’s health system, which allows people without appropriate training and certification to call themselves doctors. Third, they could lead to fear and mistrust of the health system, further exacerbating the country’s health woes and putting health targets out of reach. The response to the HIV outbreak in Larkana has been fairly swift, involving various international agencies and provincial and federal governments. … However, it should not have taken this tragedy to spur action. The health authorities in Pakistan must at least now use it as a catalyst for change” (7/1).