World Aids Day

2015-12-01

Islamabad, 01-12-2015: Minister for National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar said that World AIDS Day is celebrated annually on 1st December to remind  us that HIV response need our attention, because HIV has not gone away and that many steps still need to be taken. The day aims to raise awareness on the HIV & AIDS situations/threat faced globally, in each region and in each country; highlight achievements over the year and identify further steps that need to be taken to eliminate this disease. While She Addressing a world AIDS Day Seminar in Islamabad.

 Saira Afzal Tarar said; HIV AIDS in my opinion needs special attention due to the stigma attached to it. Therefore, World AIDS Day is the ideal occasion to raise awareness among the people of this disease faced by Pakistan and encourage them to join in this global fight against AIDS. It is not only the Government but all responsible society members to play their role in supporting the initiatives, which the present Government along with UN agencies are taking to prevent HIV from the population. It is our responsibility to remind the people that HIV can be prevented and if someone is infected it can be treated.

The Minister said This is high time to raise more awareness regarding HIV AIDS. The Government of Pakistan is providing free of cost treatment to 7000 HIV patients in 21 treatment centres across the country. National AIDS Control Program has delivered remarkably in past 2 years,The Global Fund has agreed to extend support to National AIDS Control Program till 2017.

When I took over the charge of the Ministry, in my 1st interaction with the Programs, especially HIV AIDS Program, I stressed upon services to be provided to the maximum people of the country free of cast. There were 11 HIV Treatment centres in 2013, now it is 21 centres, there were 7 Community Based centres, while now it is 20 centres including the remote areas like Turbat Balochistan, Bannu KP and Muzaffarabad beside Punjab and Sindh.

Saira Afzal Tarar said,There were 6000 HIV cases registered, while now we have 14000 cases registered in Pakistan, which is still less and we needs to reach to the people.

Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 requires meeting the global 90-90- 90 targets. Considerable financial resources have been mobilized through domestic allocation for HIV sector. Pakistan is moving towards sustainable national financing and will continue investing in this area.

Internationally our efforts have been recognized, while our grading went up from B1 to A2, but I will still ask our valuable partners to come forward and support us to reduce the gap and also the stigma and discrimination attached to HIV and AIDS.

She urged the religious leaders and opinion makers to come forward and tell the people that HIV is a disease; we must not discriminate but support the people living with HIV. We are working on HIV Bill and very soon it will be presented in the National assembly to address the basic human rights issues faced by the community. I would ask my team to strengthen the coordination with community, UN agencies and other partners and suggest a plan to achieve the SDGs, for which Government of Pakistan is a signatory.

She said The Ministry of National Health Services, needs your technical support and to guide us to work on fast track to reduce the gap among estimated and registered HIV cases.

I am thankful to UNAIDS, UNICEF, the UNIC and the Global Fund for their joint efforts to prevent the HIV from our communities.

Dr. Mamadou .L. Sakho, UNAIDS Country Director, Pakistan and Afghanistan has said that “on this World AIDS Day, we need to implement the UNAIDS Fast-Track strategy that aim to end the HIV epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. He said I congratulate the NACP for their excellent achievement so far and for collaboration with UN agencies in Pakistan.

 The United Nation General Assembly special Assembly High Level meeting on HIV/AIDS tentatively planned for 8-10 June 2016 will further galvanize the world to fast track response on the road to ending AIDS by 2030. With the Fast-Track approach through accelerating effective and efficient HIV prevention, community based testing, treatment and human rights; we can shrink new infections to 2000 a year in 2020. Through this strategy, we can bring health, equality, social justice and dignity for all key populations in Pakistan. We have a fragile five-year window to build on the rapid results that have been made so far”. UNAIDS ensures its full technical and strategic support to work in partnerships with all key stakeholders including Government of Pakistan, UN Agencies, private sector, religious leaders, academia, media and most importantly with civil society and communities to protect human rights of HIV positive people.

Ms Lola Castro, the UN Resident coordinator said in her speech that we are working with Government and we assure Ministry of National Health Services for further support to reduce the gap and address stigma and discrimination attached to HIV & AIDS.

Dr. Abdul Baseer Khan Achakzai, National Programme Manager, NACP said “the Government of Pakistan is committed to scaling up targeted and focused interventions among location and populations to prevent new HIV infections among key and vulnerable groups and to foster an organized national response and, improve the health and quality of life of people with and affected by HIV and to scale up community-based HIV testing in order to bridge the gap between registered and estimated HIV cases”.

Dr. Achakzai also mentioned that the Government of Pakistan is providing free of cost, HIV treatment, testing and counseling services in 51 different facilities throughout the country.