Saturday, February 4

Cameras at Ratodero HIV centre termed violation of human rights

LARKANA: The parents of the children have been constantly demanding removal of CCTV cameras installed inside the HIV Treatment Support Centre in Ratodero and provision of all required medical treatment facilities along with medicines but no notice has been taken so far.

The affected parents alleged Monday that CCTV camera installation is violation of privacy of the positive cases as they are already facing discrimination in the society.

When this scribe asked about the installation of the CCTV cameras inside the HIV Centre on Sunday, Dr. Sharaf Ali Shah, former Provincial Program Manager, Sindh AIDS Control Program (SACP) and worldwide known expert on HIV/AIDS, said that confidentiality and privacy of HIV/ AIDS patients and their families is a human right. He said it’s the responsibility of care providers to maintain the privacy and confidentiality at all levels adding violation of human rights of HIV / AIDS patients is punishable under the law.

He said that the Sindh AIDS Commission ACT passed by the Sindh Assembly also safeguards the right of privacy and confidentiality of HIV / AIDS patients and their families. He said taking photos of people living with HIV and their families or identifying them through cameras installed for surveillance purposes not only violates human rights but also discourages patients from seeking treatment. Dr Shah further said that pushing away HIV / AIDS patients to seek treatment from Government treatment centres will certainly create serious problems for the community as a whole.

Dr. Imran Akbar Arbani who broke the presence of HIV cases in Ratodero at the very outset opined that CCTV installation is unlawful but this issue is not that much important when rest of the issues related to HIV patients are still unattended. He said that HIV children deaths continue to be reported which means HIV Treatment is ineffective in the positive babies. He questioned what is lacking and why there is a death every month?

On the other hand, Dr. Ershad Kazmi, Additional Director, CDC, on his social media account, has defended the installation of CCTV cameras saying these were installed to check the working of employees who were smoking inside the rooms and patients were waiting outside. He also criticized one group of Pakistan Medical Association who had vehemently opposed the idea of CCTV cameras. He did not even spare journalists who are reporting woes faced by the positive cases. He only believes in issuing illogical rebuttals for self-protection as parents of the affected HIV positive children have been holding protest demonstrations for improper treatment facilities, unavailability of all the medicines and non-receipt of endowment fund payments.

The provincial Health and Population Minister Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho should take immediate notice of the problems faced by the innocent poor families who have been infected without their fault, the parents have demanded.