SHC puts Health, Finance, P&D ministries on notice


The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday issued notices to the federal and provincial ministries of Finance, Health, and Planning and Development (P&D), and the Sindh Aids Control Programme (SACP) among others seeking their explanation over the discontinuation of the HIV/AIDS programme.
The SHC division bench, comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Muhammad Tasnim, heard a constitutional petition filed by Iqbal Kazmi pleading to continue the healthcare programmes for helping patients. The petitioner submitted that due to government’s negligence and lack of funds, neither any initiative had been taken to conduct HIV+ patients’ screening, nor any serious steps taken to provide medical treatment to AIDS patients.
He expressed serious concerns over the rising number of HIV/AIDS patients in the country. Referring to a report issued in 2009, the plaintiff submitted that nearly 0.2 million people were found to be HIV positive across the country, with 52 percent of them being from Sindh alone. However, no such survey was conducted after 2009 to find out the actual number of HIV/AIDS patients.
The plea maintained that initially when HIV cases were reported in the country, foreign institutions and US government had supported Pakistan to launch AIDS control programmes by providing medical treatment to the patients. In this regard, the US president provided US$ 63 million to the government beside US$ 3.1 million of funds in aid. The World Bank also released US$ 55.1 million.
However, international agencies stopped their funding in 2009 after cases of financial irregularities and corruption were reported. Citing federal and Sindh ministries of finance, health, and P&D, and the SACP programme manager as respondents, the petitioner demanded conducting a survey to find out actual statistics of the HIV/AIDS patients and launch a programme for the patients.
After hearing the preliminary arguments, the court issued notices to the Attorney General and the Sindh Advocate General to submit comments on behalf of the federal and the provincial governments on August 10.