Pakistan province struggles with hundreds of cases of children infected with HIV

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2019   •   4037

A woman holds an HIV positive child | Courtesy: Image grabbed from a Reuters video

In the dusty town of Ratodero in southern Pakistan, doctors are struggling to cope with an alarming outbreak of young patients infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, with almost 700 of new cases over the past few months, most of them children.

But many of the families cannot afford proper treatment, which usually involves regular trips to Karachi for medicines.

“I have sold all my valuables for treatment,” said Tariq Ali, from Allah Dino Seelro, a small village in Ratodero, who was himself diagnosed as HIV positive last year. His sister died of AIDS and his wife and daughter are HIV positive. A nephew was diagnosed HIV positive a few days ago.

Some families like Nazeer Husain Shah, whose 16-month old infant girl was diagnosed HIV positive in February, could not fathom how the virus managed to infect their loved ones.

“At first I got furious. For me it was impossible to imagine that she was suffering from such a disease,” he said.

Officials suspect quack medical practitioners, who are widespread in poor towns and villages across Pakistan, of reusing syringes and providing improperly screened blood transfusions.

“He (doctor) used to apply same drip on fifty children without changing the needle,” said Imitaz Ali, a father who lost his 14-month old daughter while his two children were tested HIV positive. Unable to seek proper medical help, he blamed a quack practitioner for treating the children “like animals”.

From April 25 to May 25, 2019, federal health ministry officials say 681 people have tested positive for HIV, of whom 537 were children.

“This is a tip of the iceberg,” Dr Imran Akbar Arbani said in his small clinic, crowded with patients, “this (number) could be in the thousands, not hundreds,” he added.

Pakistani officials estimate the country has some 163,000 HIV and AIDS patients, of whom only 25,000 are registered with the provincial and federal AIDS control programs, according to Zafar Mirza, the prime minister’s adviser on health

But the experience of medical workers in Ratodero, in Larkana, the base of the powerful Bhutto political dynasty in Sindh province, suggest that the real numbers may be unknown.

The federal government has asked for help from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Foreign medical teams are in the country and the government has ordered 50,000 HIV kits and is setting up three treatment centres around Larkana.

The cases underline the dire state of healthcare in Pakistan, a nation of 208 million where almost a third of the population lives on under $3.20 a day and where many people cannot afford expensive tests or medicines. (REUTERS)

NBI warns against proliferation of cybercrimes amid ECQ

Marje Pelayo   •   April 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Scammers are increasingly active these days especially with everyone practically living in cyberspace due to lockdowns in different parts of the world.

In the Philippines, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has warned the public of the rise in cybercrime as the national government’s enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) limits movement outside of residence.

With almost all services migrating online, scammers are taking advantage of online platforms to pursue their schemes.

Such is the problem of Jodel Merjudio who operates an online travel agency.

Merjudio reported to UNTV’s Serbisyong Bayanihan that some scammers created an impostor account of his enterprise’s Facebook page.

It only came to his knowledge when one of his clients told him about an alleged representative of his travel agency who transacted and asked money from that client on his behalf.

Part of the scammer’s modus operandi is to block the clueless victims from its fake page once payment is received.

The victims are then led to Merjudio’s official page to follow up on transactions that the latter had no knowledge of.

“Ang nangyayari, iyong kliyente pag nag-search sila sa Facebook, dalawa ang lalabas na agency. So kami ang nako-contact nila kasi naka-block na sila doon sa scammer page,” Merjudio said.

Jodel said he initially reported the incident to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 4A Cybercrime Division.

To assist Jodel, Kuya Daniel Razon contacted Atty.Victor Lorenzo of the NBI’s Cybercrime Division who agreed with Jodel’s initial move of reporting the incident to proper authorities.

The official promised to help Jodel in identifying the perpetrators behind the impostor account and to eventually resolve the case.

“Kunin nila ang mga contact details [ng kliyente] at kung makipag-ugnayan sila sa amin ay iyon kasi ang hihingiin namin (Get the contact details [of the client] so when you come to us, those are the details that we would be asking],” Lorenzo said.

Kokontakin namin sila para malaman kung ano ba ang mode of payment? Paano ang money ay transmitted? Bank to bank? Kasi ang best lead natin kung sino ang nag-create ng fake account ng travel agency (We will ask them what the mode of payment was; how the money was transmitted; and was it bank to bank? Our best lead would be the creator of the travel agency’s fake account),” he added.

Atty. Lorenzo said incidents of online travel agency scams have already dwindled for some time but since the country is under lockdown, scammers have again started to become active online. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

DA, hinikayat ang mga magsasakang hindi makabenta ng produkto na dumulog sa UNTV

Marje Pelayo   •   April 9, 2020

While farmers from other municipality of Benguet are unfortunate in selling their crops, Mrs. Nida Carantes of Taloy Sur will try her luck on this 15th day of enhanced quarantine (3/30/2020) to sell her sweet peas inside Baguio if the authorities will favor her niece to enter. (Clinton Aniversario/PVI)

MANILA, Philippines – Tiniyak ng Department of Agriculture (DA) na tutulungan nito ang mga magsasaka sa pagbebenta ng kanilang mga produkto ngayong umiiral ang enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) bunsod ng nararanasang krisis pangkalusugan.

Ito ang tugon ng DA sa panayam ng programang Get It Straight with Daniel Razon nang dumulog sa himpilan ng UNTV ang hog raiser na si Gaudencio Camaclang dahil nahihirapan siyang ialok ang kanyang mga alagang baboy.

Ayon kay DA Spokesperson Noel Reyes, maaring makipag-ugnayan ang mga magsasaka at maging mangingisda sa UNTV upang maiparating sa Kagawaran kung anong uri ng produkto ang kanilang iniaalok at kung saang lugar upang makuha o mailapit sa mga mamimili.

“Iyong mga may kailangang ma-harvest na at walang merkado, tamang tama po iyan dahil maibebenta po natin iyan sa ‘Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita’ (stores) dito sa Metro Manila at sa mga urban centers, sa mga villagers,” pagtiyak ng opisyal.

“Ipagbigay-alam lang sa inyong programa kung ano iyong (produkto) saang address, at gaano karami. We’ll link them directly sa mga buyers,” dagdag nito.

Ang mga magsasaka sa Region 4A o sa mga bayan ng Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, at Quezon (CALABARZON) ay maaring makipag-ugnayan kay DA Regional Director Arnel De Mesa sa numerong 09175082455 at 09087574547 upang mapuntahan ang kanilang produkto.

Samantala, sinabi ni Reyes na kinikilala ng Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-IED) ang kahalagahan ng food security lalo na sa kasalukuyang hinaharap na health emergency dahil sa banta ng coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“They approved na dapat kasama sa national security ang food security dahil alam ninyo naman na sa pagdi-distribute pa lang ng pera ay medyo may kaguluhan na. Lalo na kung gutom na ang tao,” saad nito.

Tiniyak ng DA na walang dapat ikabahala ang publiko dahil sapat ang pagkain sa bansa sa kabila ng umiiral na ECQ.

Subalit nakiusap ito sa mga lokal na pamahalaan na huwag harangin ang paghahatid ng mga produktong pagkain upang ang mga ito ay agad na makarating sa mga mamamayan.

“We reiterate na marami po tayong pagkain. Ang naantala lang po ay iyong distribution,” pahayag ng opisyal.

“Kaya nakikiusap kami sa mga LGU sa barangay na kung pagkain ang laman ng dyip o truck ay huwag nang harangin. Let (there be) free flow of goods,” pagtatapos nito.

Sa mga may nais iparating sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno, maaring makipagugnayan sa UNTV Serbisyong Bayanihan sa mga sumusunod na numero:

UNTV donates face shields to NCRPO

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — UNTV on Friday (March 27) donated 100 face shields to the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).

The 100 face shields will be used by the NCRPO personnel manning the quarantine-controlled checkpoints in Metro Manila.

NCRPO Director PMGen. Debold Sinas admitted that the Metro Manila Police lack personal protective equipment (PPEs).

The NCRPO previously used improvised face shields made of acetate as protection for the policemen working as frontliners against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

He also said that the donation of UNTV and other private sectors is a huge help in their operations during the enhanced community quarantine.

“Pasalamat kami sa UNTV dahil nag-donate sila ng face shields (We are grateful to UNTV for donating face shields),” he said. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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