Courtesy By: Daily Times
* Draft of law suggests Rs 50,000-100,000 fine, 6 month-one year jail for violators
By Afnan Khan
LAHORE: The National Assembly may soon introduce legislation regarding pre-marital blood screening to control the spread of HIV/AIDS, thalassemia, hepatitis and other diseases that are transmitted through genetic abnormalities; blood transmission; and sexual relations, sources within the National Assembly said on Tuesday.
They said the government would impose stern punishment to enforce the law, which would be binding on every Pakistani couple. The punishments would range from a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 100,000; six months to a year’s imprisonment; or both. Parliament is also planning on adding a provision to the law to collect the medical history of all Pakistanis deported from foreign countries, especially the Middle East, upon their arrival at airports. The sources said this was necessary as many people are deported from Middle Eastern countries after being found positive for HIV, hepatitis C, etc. Such people rarely inform the government or their families of these conditions to escape stigma and can thus spread the infections, they added.
The parliamentary sources said the law would be implemented through the thousands of basic health units (BHUs) functioning throughout the country. They said the officials working in these BHUs to keep a check on people violating the law.
The Standing Committee for Health in the National Assembly is due to meet today (Wednesday) to discuss the final timetable for placement of the bill before parliament and conduct a final debate on its pros and cons. According to committee Chairman Yasmeen Rehman, they would also discuss the issue of spurious drugs; shortage of life-saving medicine; and the high prices of medicines being sold by multinational companies.
She told Daily Times the committee had already drawn up the outline and major clauses of pre-marital blood screening law. She said passage of this law would ensure the safety of future generations from several deadly diseases.