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

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2019   •   3810

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)

Girl survives 18 hours under collapsed house, snow in Pakistan

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2020



By Jaime Leon

Islamabad – A 12-year-old girl has survived 18 hours buried under rubble and snow in Pakistan after a neighbor’s house where she took refuge with her family was buried by an avalanche.

Two of the girl’s brothers died in the incident.

So far 104 people have been killed by the adverse weather conditions affecting the Asian country.

The girl’s mother, Shehnaz Bibi, told Efe on Thursday that she took refuge with her husband and four children in a neighbor’s house along with four other families on Monday afternoon as snowfall blanketed the town of Bakwali in Neelum Valley.

Bibi said there was no noise before the avalanche struck the house, burying all those inside.

The woman was rescued three hours later and told her four children were presumed dead.

But an hour later Aqib, 3, was rescued alive.

Her daughter Samina, 12, was discovered alive on Tuesday morning, 18 hours after the house was buried by the snow. She had a broken leg.

“It is a miracle that she is alive,” said Bibi. “She was awake the whole night and didn’t eat anything.

“She had been calling for help the whole night.”

The girl survived in a hole amid the wooden remains of the collapsed five-story house.

After being rescued, Samina was transferred to a hospital in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir.

“She has a fracture in her femur but she is stable now,” the deputy medical superintendent of the Combined Military Hospital, Nauman Manzoor, said.

The bodies of Bibi’s other two children were found later.

Her house, which the family fled believing it would collapse, survived the avalanche and is still standing.

“We regret why we chose to go to another house,” she said. “I’ve lost my two children just because of a wrong decision.”

Eighteen people were killed and 12 survived the avalanche.

In Kashmir, 77 people have been reported dead while 56 have been injured in a series of avalanches that buried valleys and villages on Monday, according to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority.

Elsewhere, 20 people died in Balochistan province on Monday, while 23 others were injured in the snowstorms, which brought down houses and blocked roads.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the death toll stood at seven, while five have died in Gilgit Baltistan.

The number of fatalities resulting from the bad weather reached 104, while 96 have been injured and 236 houses have been destroyed in one of Pakistan’s harshest winters in recent memory.

Rescue operations were ongoing in the affected areas, with food and tents being distributed by army helicopters and soldiers working to reopen roads blocked by snow and debris.

Pakistan witnesses significant human loss and material damage every year during the monsoon season, but not usually during the winter months. EFE-EPA

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At least 50 dead, 20 missing amid avalanches in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir

UNTV News   •   January 14, 2020

A boy removes snow from his house’s yard in Neelum valley, Pakistani-administered Kashmir, 14 January 2020. EFE-EPA/AMIRUDDIN MUGHAL

Islamabad – At least 50 people were killed and 20 others remain missing after a series of avalanches hit several villages in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, officials said Tuesday.

In other parts of the country, 18 more have been killed due to heavy snowfall this winter season.

According to Saeed-Ur-Rehman Qureshi, the director of operations at the State Disaster Management Authority in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a series of avalanches hit various villages in the Neelum Valley on Monday afternoon after several days of snowfall.

“So far, 50 people have been killed,” he told EFE, adding that the authorities feared that 20 others were missing amid the snow.

Local authorities have launched a rescue operation involving the country’s military to search for the missing people, Qureshi said.

In recent days, at least three more people have died in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir because of heavy rains and snowfall.

In the southwestern province of Balochistan, at least 15 people have been killed and 11 others injured in the last three days by heavy rains and snowfall that has shattered roofs, knocked down walls and cut off roads, Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority said in a statement.

On Monday, the provincial government declared state of emergency to deal with the situation.

The country’s meteorological department forecast continuous rain and snowfall over the next few days.

Every year, rainfall leads to significant human and property damage in South Asian countries, especially during the monsoon period between June and September.

One of the worst natural disasters in Pakistan’s history was the flooding in 2010 following an extraordinarily intense monsoon, which, combined with a massive summer thaw, left some 2,000 people dead and more than 20 million affected. EFE-EPA

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Lifesaver: How to treat fireworks-related burns and injuries

Robie de Guzman   •   December 31, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The government has been calling on the public to ditch fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices for safer noise-maker alternatives to avoid any injuries during the celebration of the holidays.

However, there are some people who just can’t help themselves from setting those firecrackers off so UNTV’s Lifesaver program has prepared first-aid tips on how to treat burns and injuries related to the use of fireworks.

Lifesaver program host, UNTV News and Rescue Manager Benedict Galazan, said there are different first aid treatments for different types of fireworks accidents.

He, however, stressed that these are only temporary measures as victims should be immediately rushed to the nearest hospital.

Here are the first-aid tips:

  • For first degree burns, the burned or injured area should be washed under cool running water for 10 to 15 minutes to ease the pain and remove traces of chemical powder.
  • Cover the burned area using a clean cloth and, if necessary, immediately bring the victim to the hospital.

First-degree burns are considered mild and result in pain and reddening of the skin.

  • For second degree burns, run cool water on the wound for 10 to 15 minutes to stop the bleeding and ease the pain.
  • Cover the wound with a clean cloth or plastic wrap then bring the victim to the nearest hospital.

Second-degree burns affect the epidermis and lower layer of the skin and may cause pain, redness, and blistering.

When blistering occurs, the swollen area of the skin should not be popped.

“‘Yung mga blister o paltos ay huwag puputukin. Kasi iyan po ang pinaka-defense mechanism ng katawan ‘yan na kapag may heat na naramdaman ang katawan, magpo-produce siya ng liquid para ‘yun din ang makatulong sa pagcool-down ng burn,” Galazan said.

  • For third-degree burns, run the wound on cool water for 10 to 15 minutes to stop the bleeding and ease the pain.
  • Carefully put pressure on the injured area to control the bleeding.
  • Do NOT apply toothpaste, cream or any oil-based ointment to the wound or burn.
  • Cover the injured area with a clean cloth or plastic wrap then bring the victim to the hospital.

Third-degree burns affect the dermis and deeper skin tissues and may result in white or blackened, charred skin that may be numb.

  • For injured fingers, hands and other limbs, Lifesaver advises to run the injured part under cool water. Do NOT use ice.
  • If the fingers are still intact, run it as well on cool water.
  • If some fingers or other body parts are dismembered or lost, apply pressure using a tourniquet or any device (bandage and stick, rope or belt) to a limb or extremity to limit – but not stop – the flow of blood.
  • Also, try to look for the dismembered finger, and wrap them in a clean cloth. Place them inside a sealed plastic bag and put it in ice.
  • Bring the victim and the dismembered body part to the nearest hospital.

Dismembered limbs need to be brought with the victim to the hospital as these may still be reattached through surgery.

  • For eye injuries, flush the affected eye with cool water to remove any traces of firecracker powder.
  • Do NOT scratch or touch the injured eye.
  • If it is bleeding, use gauze or a paper cup to cover and protect the injured eye. Be careful not to put pressure on the eye.
  • Bring the patient to the nearest hospital

For ingestion or firecracker or its powder, here are the first aid tips:

  • Let the patient drink raw egg whites. Health experts recommend six to eight egg whites to a child and eight to 12 to an adult.
  • The patient should not attempt to throw up the ingested firecracker to prevent further damage.
  • Bring the victim to the nearest hospital.

Remember, if the wound is larger than the size of the palm of the hand, immediately bring the victim to the nearest hospital or call emergency medical services such as 8-911-UNTV.

Watch the episode of Lifesaver below for more first aid tips on firecracker burns:

– RRD (Correspondent Harlene Delgado contributed to this report)

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