KARACHI Sep 27,2021- The HIV outbreak in Larkana was a point of global concern and WHO’s combined efforts with the Sindh Health Department allowed for a timely and effective management of the situation that began before the covid-19 pandemic and continued all throughout it.
A Dissemination event was held at Avari Towers that discussed Building Infection Prevention and Control System for Safe Health Service Delivery in Larkana and Sindh in general. Minister for Health and Population Welfare, Sindh, Dr. Azra Pechuho was on the panel for this event as well as WHO Representative and Head of Mission Pakistan Dr Palitha Mahipala and Parliamentary Secretary Qasim Soomro.
Regional Advisor AMR WHO EMRO Dr Maha Ismail Taalat joined the conference virtually and gave detail regarding the project as well as its successes, challenges and recommendations.
The Minister thanked Dr. Khalid Othmani, Director King Salman Relief Fund Pakistan and WHO for supporting the Sindh Health Department and stated that every disaster is a lesson to be learned, and the HIV outbreak in Ratodero meant that we have to move forward with some strategies that would ensure that we do not face this tragedy again.
Cause of the outbreak was simmering in hospitals
The cause of the outbreak was simmering in the entire public and private sector of healthcare. No one had been concerned till this outbreak with children involved. First of all, there was a baseline study for waste management and hospital management, that’s where WHO established the IPC practices in our health facilities.
Now we have to sustain what we have done in one district and replicate it in the entire province. The practices have to be implemented in all our hospitals, continued political commitment is there. There has to be technical support and we need to engage all private and public sector.
Dr. Azra Pechuho stated that, hospital transmission of infection is very high in our country, the reusing of syringes were also causes of this high rate of infection – we have now moved to auto lock syringes largely in the provinces. I very much agree that dissemination of knowledge of IPC is not readily available, so we need to concentrate on IPC practices as well as water sanitation and hygiene. This is a significant challenge as a lot of the diseases are due to lack of clean drinking water, also a need to implement IPC communication strategy.
Oral medication has to be promoted rather than injectables, single use IV lines, fact of the matter is that training people from the onset while they are
undergoing their other trainings to become nurses, doctors, paramedics IPC should very much be a part of their curriculum, said the Minister for Health.
Blood screening is also an integral part of this fight against infection transmission, we already have 4 IVCs and we are putting out blood banks in all the districts that come under these. One is in Karachi, one is in Jamshoro, one in Sukkur, this covers Larkana as well, and the last one in Shaheed Benazirabad.
Health Minister, Sindh also said that, basically the monitoring and evaluation of IPCs is the most important part of the strategy and we have to ensure that this is maintained and that everyone is committed to the same end. The Pandemic has shown us that everyone has become conscious of handwashing and personal hygiene.
IPC unit established
An IPC unit was established at the provincial level to coordinate the IPC activities and federal IPC guidelines were launched in April 2020. 35 provincial IPC master trainers were provided and they repeated extensive practical IPC training courses by WHO. These master trainers then cascaded the IPC training to 199 IPC staff in 44 hospitals in Sindh until March 2021.
All essential IPC supplies are available, a waste management system has been established and 3 incinerators were installed with the support of WHO. A total of 925 frontline healthcare workers were also trained on the best IPC practices.