ISLAMABAD: An amount of Rs2 billion has been allocated by the government to tackle Aids, tuberculosis and malaria in the country.

This was shared by the federal joint secretary Mustafa Jamal Kazi during an event held in connection with World Aids Day, which was observed throughout the globe on Thursday.

This year, the theme of the day is ‘Equalise’ with an aim towards action to increase availability, quality of services for HIV treatment, testing and prevention.

“The government is committed towards strengthening Pakistan’s response towards eradication of HIV with a target to achieve the sustainable development goal (SDG) of ending Aids,” Mr Qazi said.

Says national, provincial strategies shall be revised

An official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) said that Pakistan depends on the grants of donors to tackle all three diseases.

During the event, Federal Minister Abdul Qadir Patel said that the government, at both the national and provincial levels, despite competing priorities and fiscal limitations, strives to provide HIV prevention and treatment services through a high impact community-based HIV prevention programme.

“We are going to revise national and provincial Aids strategies, setting the plan of action in the light of global guidance,” he said.

Special secretary (health) Mirza Nasir-ud-Din Mashhood Ahmad said that there was a need to initiate national prevention revolution which includes all available options to stop the transmission of Human immunodeficiency virus including protection commodities, immediate initiation of antiretroviral therapy and pre-exposure prophylaxis.

“Specific populations and locations require additional tools such as harm reduction for people who inject drugs,” he said.

Ms Yuki Takemoto, UNAids country director said: “The Global Aids Strategy, 2021–2026 provides a clear, evidence-informed blueprint for getting the Aids response on track. No miraculous silver bullet is needed, using the tools already at its disposal, the government together with communities and partners simply needs to translate its commitments into concrete results for people.”

Ms Aliona Niculita, deputy resident representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), emphasised the agency’s commitment towards addressing economic, social, cultural and legal inequalities to contribute towards ending the Aids epidemic and collaboratively working towards building resilient health systems to enable equitable and efficient access to services embedded with utmost dignity and respect for communities.

Swedish Ambassador to the Pakistan Henrik Persson said as an ambassador he wanted to reiterate that the time to act was now. “Let’s spell a new beginning to reflect on our gains and failures of yesterday to seize the countless possibilities of tomorrow for making Pakistan HIV free,” he added.

Representative of People Living with HIV Asghar Satti expressed hope towards the Aids eradication programme being a success.

Meanwhile, speaking to a press conference, central general secretary, Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) Dr Iftikhar Burney said that the estimated number of Aids patients in Pakistan was 210,000, out of which 53,718 patients were registered under the Aids control programme.

“Only in Islamabad, 496 new Human immunodeficiency virus cases were reported in the first 10 months of the current year. This is an alarming situation and the higher authorities need to take serious steps in this regard,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2022

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