Nearly 900 children in Pakistan have tested positive for HIV after a pediatrician allegedly reused syringes on his patients, reports British daily The Independent.
The HIV outbreak was blamed solely on Dr. Muzaffar Ghanghro, who is known to the locals as one of the cheapest doctors in Ratodero. The doctor was arrested and was charged with manslaughter and negligence after his patients accused him of reusing syringes on kids.
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Imtiaz Jalbani, the father of six children who were treated by Dr. Ghanghro, said that he witnessed how the doctor was rummaging through the bin to look for an old needle and use it on his six-year-old son. Jalbani said that his son later tested positive for HIV. Jalbani said that although he protested against reusing the syringe, the pediatrician simply snapped at him and said that Jalbani was too poor to pay for a new syringe. That is why he had to use the old one. Four of Jalbani’s kids were diagnosed HIV positive, among these are his two youngest, who were already dying.
Local journalist Gulbahar Shaikh, who broke the news to the country, rushed so that his own family would be tested because Dr. Ghanghro was also his kids’ pediatrician. The journalist shared that his two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with the virus and it was “devastating” for him as a father.
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About 200 adults have also tested positive for HIV since the epidemic was confirmed in Ratodero. Health officials expressed their concerns that the true number of people affected with the virus may even be higher.
The doctor is currently working as a general practitioner at a public hospital on the outskirts of the city after he was able to renew his medical certificate. He has denied all accusations against him and insists on his innocence. According to a separate report by the New York Times, visiting health workers often see doctors in Ratodero reuse syringes and dentists using unsterilized tools.