World Aids Day: HIV/Aids screening to be made compulsory for all

December 2, 2010

Courtesy: dawn.com

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is considering legislation to make it binding on all people to undergo HIV/Aids test.

“The government will go for the legislation after which all people will be legally bound to undergo HIV/Aids screening. We have already made pre-marriage test of Thalassemia compulsory for the would-be couples,” said provincial minister for higher education Qazi Mohammad Asad on Wednesday.

Speaking as chief guest at a function held in connection with the World Aids Day at the Frontier Women’s College, the minister said that the legislation concerning compulsory screening before marriage was gaining social acceptability and with the passage of time more and more people would opt for such tests.

“Awareness is a shield against the deadly disease of HIV/Aids. We have to keep an eye on the immigrant workers who are being deported on account of having the disease,” he said and added that such people were the main cause of HIV/Aids spread in the country.

Mr Asad expressed his concern over the stoppage of funds for the HIV/Aids programme and said that it would further complicate the situation.

He expressed optimism that the government would provide funds to keep the programme activities going. He urged the students to get more information about the causative agents of the disease. On this occasion, the college students presented skits to highlight bad effects of the disease and ways to avoid it.

The minister said that the deported men were infecting their wives, who didn’t know about their health status.

“The only way to stem the tide of HIV/Aids is to put all those returning from abroad to compulsory screening at the airports. He said that though people hesitate to be subjected to HIV screening, there was no other way to stop the transmission of the disease.

Another function concerning HIV/Aids awareness was held at the Badhber camp where experts advised Afghan refugees to keep themselves limited to their wives.

“Afghan refugees living here frequently cross the border to their country due to which they are at the razor edge of the infections disease,” Dr Jawad Habib Khan of the Project Directorate of Health for Afghan told the audience.He also said that re-use of syringes, transfusion of unscreened blood and shaving at the barbers’ shops should be avoided to stay safe from the pandemic.

“There is an urgent need to tell people about the transmission of the disease, otherwise the HIV/Aids could snowball into major health problem in the country,” he said.Later a awareness walk was also held which passed through the Afghan refugee camp.

All Women Advancement and Resource Development, a local NGO, organised a camp near the Khyber Teaching Hospital where HIV/Aids-related literature was distributed among visitors. Maimoona Noor, head of the NGO, asked the government to provide free test facilities, including CD-4 and viral load because poor patients could not afford cost of the investigation.

She said that creating awareness of the disease through dissemination of information was the right and favourable way to step the disease.


Thalassemia: Learn something, will you?

July 11, 2010

Courtesy: tribune.com.pk

For over four years, Fight Against Thalassemia (FAiTh) has been trying to convey a simple message across to the government: to pass and implement a Pre-Marital Mandatory Tests Bill in the country. This is a simple request for a simple bill and a simple solution to highly complex problems that our society faces today.

Even though right now there are no government-based Thalassemia treatment centers, this situation will improve soon as there will soon be as many as seven Thalassemia treatment centers run by the Government of Pakistan. The exact date of when these centers will be setup however, only two G’s know: God, and Government.

FAiTh has attempted to utilize a myriad of media: from print to web-based, from television to spreading awareness on its own through the help of media owners. While FAiTh was busy with awareness campaigns, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assembly sent us a shocking, yet pleasant surprise: they passed the Pre-Marital Mandatory Tests Bill.

This was a cause for celebration! However, this overwhelming joy was quickly swept over by another question: When a conservative province like the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is progressive enough to pass the bill, why are the other provinces so reluctant?

The North West is a place where the men do not want anyone to see their female counter-parts. I salute them for passing the bill and giving other provinces what we call, “ghairat ka dose.”

And, just after a few short days, the Sindh Assembly gathered all of its courage, and passed the resolution as well! What a brilliant milestone!

This is all great! However, what the Punjab Assembly did comes as a big slap across the metaphorical faces of all the other Provincial Assemblies. I understand that I am going to be opposed with many objections after this post. Even as I wrote this, I came up with several queries myself, such as it will be an invasion of privacy or that more problems will be caused for girls and aged women who are still awaiting their match.

I am supporting this bill because of the medical check-up made necessary. This can surely help to put a full stop to the birth of 5,000 Thalassemic children every year. It is not the children, that shouldn’t be born. It is Thalassemia. I have mentioned in my earlier posts as well, that I am representing Thalassemia patients of Pakistan. I am their ambassador, and I speak for them when I assert that they will be happy with this new law.

Now, the National Assembly needs to get some ‘ghairat‘ and do their part: implement the law countrywide!


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