Authorities alarmed when hemophilia patients found infected with hepatitis and HIV

Sindh Communicable Diseases Control (CDC) has requested Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority (SBTA) to immediately investigate how several hemophilia patients in Karachi received infected blood products, due to which several of them were infected with Hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV.

“As you well know, 97 people with hemophilia out of 250 tested positive for various infectious diseases, including 91 for hepatitis C, two for hepatitis B and four for HIV, during a free screening camp organized jointly by CDC (HIV/AIDS) in collaboration with Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority and Hemophilia Welfare Society,” Sindh CDC (HIV/AIDS) Additional Director Dr Irshad Kazmi wrote on Saturday in a letter to the SBTA.

The CDC initially claimed that 170 out of 250 hemophilia patients recently screened by provincial health authorities in Karachi were found to be infected with Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, HIV or other blood-borne diseases as a result of a screening camp, but after confirmatory tests, it appeared that 97 of them were found to be infected with these viral diseases.

In his letter to the Director of SBTA, Dr Kazmi said it was evident that no lessons had been learned from the previous 2019 HIV outbreak in Larkana by the Blood Transfusion Authority and the Care Commission health in Sindh.

“The quacks and substandard blood banks are back across the province, including Ratodero, while the indiscriminate use of cheap, manual, unapproved, substandard test kits by blood banks in Substandard quality also continues unchecked,” Dr Kazmi said.

He said the CDC works to control infectious diseases that pose a threat to public health. He added that the CDC’s HIV directorate recommends an investigation into how and where these hemophiliac patients received infected blood products. “Those who put innocent lives in grave danger must be held accountable,” Dr Kazmi wrote. He lamented that all the deadly consequences of an unsafe blood transfusion are preventable.

The CDC official said it was the job of the SBTA, which was a government agency, to ensure the supply of safe blood products to everyone who needed them. He added that the authority should not ignore this alarm signal. “Findings of the investigation may be kindly shared with CDC (HIV/AIDS), Sindh Health Services Branch,” the letter read.

Hemophilia is a rare and serious X-linked congenital bleeding disorder that affects the blood’s ability to clot, meaning people with hemophilia bleed longer than normal, experts say. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 10,000 people are affected by hemophilia, with 450,000 people living with the disease worldwide. It is estimated that approximately 24,000 people are living with haemophilia in Pakistan.

According to Raheel Ahmed, Managing Director of Haemophilia Welfare Society Karachi, as cutting-edge treatment for hemophilia is not available in Pakistan, its treatment is done using blood by-products where plasma from healthy patients is administered. to hemophilia patients. Speaking to The News earlier, he said this method of treatment has become obsolete in developed countries. “As blood screening standards are very poor in the country, often plasma from people infected with viral hepatitis and HIV is transfused to hemophiliac patients, which makes the life of these patients more hard and miserable,” a- he said and added that viral infections contracted through infected blood was the leading cause of death in haemophilia patients.

Ahmed, who is a haemophilia patient himself, said that the treatment of haemophilia with injectable factor XIII and other factors that were regularly administered to patients, cost about three hundred thousand rupees in Pakistan. He said that most of the time, factors or injections for the treatment of hemophilia were not available in the country.

“There are about 24,000 haemophilia patients in Pakistan, with about 9,400 in Sindh alone. There are about 900 haemophilia patients registered with us, who need treatment with factor XIII and other factors,” he said urging the Pakistan Drug Regulatory Authority and other authorities to make modern treatment for hemophilia available in the country.

The World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) reported that 195,263 patients from 115 countries were diagnosed with hemophilia in 2019, of which 2,233 belonged to Pakistan. The actual number of people with the disease, however, remains unknown and could be very high due to the high level of inbreeding, scarcity of funds for diagnostic facilities and low awareness of the disease.

About Bradley J. Bridges

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