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Monday January 30, 2023

‘Strategies against HIV/AIDS being revised’

December 02, 2022

Islamabad: The national health services ministry is going to revise national and provincial strategies against HIV/AIDS setting the plan of action in light of global guidance, minister Abdul Qadir Patel said on Thursday.

“Our both national and provincial governments, despite competing priorities and fiscal limitations, and with the support of partners like UNAIDS, UNDP, WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, and other stakeholders, have strived to provide the people with HIV prevention and treatment services through high-impact community-based HIV prevention programme,” Mr Patel told a World AIDS Day function here.

The event was held by the ministry in collaboration with the Common Management Unit for AIDS, TB and Malaria, UNAIDS, WHO, UNDP UNICEF, UNFPA, UNODC and APLHIV commemorated World AIDS Day 2022. This year’s theme of the day is ‘Equalize’, a call to action to increase the availability, quality of services for HIV treatment, testing, and prevention. Equalize calls for communities to make use of and adapt the message to highlight the particular inequalities they face and to press for the actions needed to address them.

Special secretary (health services) Mirza Nasiruddin Mashhood Ahmad said there was a need to initiate a national prevention revolution that included all available options to stop the transmission of HIV, including protection commodities, immediate initiation of antiretroviral therapy, and pre-exposure prophylaxis. “Specific populations and locations require additional tools such as harm reduction (needle–syringe and opioid substitution therapy programmes) for people who inject drugs,” he said.

Mustafa Jamal Kazi, the joint secretary at the ministry and national coordinator of the CMU for AIDS, TB and Malaria, said the federal government had allocated Rs2 billion to tackle AIDS, TB, and malaria showing its commitment to preventing deaths from HIV infections, while significantly strengthening health systems to deliver people-centred services to those most in need. “This year, we [government] reaffirm our support to overcome challenges pertaining to strengthening of HIV response, but also on the road ahead to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal target of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030,” he said.

UNAIDS Country Director Yuki Takemoto appreciated the government’s Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026 and said the document provides a clear, evidence-informed blueprint for getting the AIDS response on the track.

“No miraculous silver bullet is needed. Using the tools already at its disposal, the government, together with communities and partners, simply need to translate its commitments into concrete results for people. And this can only happen when people living with HIV and key populations are provided with a platform to amplify their voices. We [UNAIDS] support Pakistan to translate its political commitment in strengthening HIV response,” she said.

She said the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS led and inspired the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths. “The UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works

closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.

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