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February 8, 2019

KP govt takes note of non-existence of HIV/Aids screening test centre

Peshawar

February 8, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Thursday took notice of non-existence of HIV/Aids screening test centre for the transgender community in the province even after its inauguration by the Provincial Aids Control Programme in collaboration with the UNAIDS.

The sources said that the provincial health minister took notice of the issue on the complaint of the association of transgender persons.

They said that a two-member inquiry committee was constituted to probe the matter as to why the Aids Screening and Treatment Centre for transgender persons was not established after its inauguration by the Provincial Aids Control Programme with the help of UNAIDS.

Dr Jawad A Wasif, advisor on health reforms to provincial Health Minister, confirmed to The News that Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan formed a two-member committee comprising of Director General Health Department Arshad Khan and Dr Tahir Nadeem to probe the issue.

He said the health minister had received complaints about the issue from Farzana Jan, president of TransAction Association Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and had constituted the inquiry committee to probe the matter. He added that the minister vowed to take strict action against the officials if found guilty.

To address grievances and provide immediate relief to transgender community, he said, the minister called the DG Health and asked him to start screening tests of the transgender persons with the available facilities and resources immediately.

Talking to The News, Farzana Jan declared the statement of Dr Saleem, Director Provincial Aids Control Programme as false. Dr Saleem had claimed that HIV/Aids screening test centres were established at the houses of transgender persons in the province.

She said the officials of the Provincial Aids Control Programme along with Dr Maria Elena F. Borromeo, Country Director UNAIDS for Pakistan and Afghanistan had visited her house on October 20, 2018 and held an inaugural ceremony of the centre. She alleged it was a drama as this was just for media coverage and for taking photographs.

“Blood collection of screening tests was conducted for transgender persons for photo session and media coverage in my house. Despite the official claims, the centre wasn’t established after its inauguration,” she claimed, She termed it a drama with her community to show to the world that transgender persons were being helped.

After the inauguration ceremony, she said the centre wasn’t established and no HIV/Aids screening test was conducted in her house.

She asked the KP government to probe the matter and punish the officials involved in this fake activity.

Taimur Kamal, a human rights and transgender rights activist, told The News that he was also present at the inauguration ceremony of the centre, but after that no practical steps were taken for establishing and running the centre.

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