Islamabad (Muhammad Yasir)
Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, in collaboration with Common Management Unit for AIDS, TB and Malaria, UNAIDS, WHO, UNDP UNICEF, UNFPA, UNODC, APLHIV commemorated World AIDS Day 2022. This year theme of the World AIDS Day is “Equalize”, this slogan is a call to action to increase 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.
During the event, World AIDS Day Report 2022 was launched by Mr. Abdul Qadir Patel, Honorable Federal Minister, and said that “Government of Pakistan, at both the national and provincial levels, despite competing priorities and fiscal limitations, and with the support of partners like UNAIDS, UNDP, WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, and other stakeholders has strived to provide HIV prevention and treatment services through 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”.
“There is a need to initiate national prevention revolution, that includes 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.” says Mr. Mirza Nasir-ud-Din Mashhood Ahmad, Special Secretary Health, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.
Mr. Mustafa Jamal Kazi, Federal Joint Secretary & National Coordination for Coordination Management Unit, AIDS, TB and Malaria, while presenting the HIV response in the country highlighted “that Government of Pakistan has allocated PKR 2,000 million to tackle AIDS, TB and Malaria and this shows the commitment to prevent lives from HIV infections, while significantly strengthening health systems to deliver people-centered services to those most in need.
This year, Government of Pakistan reaffirms it 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.
Ms. Yuki Takemoto, UNAIDS Country Director took an opportunity to thank Federal Minister, Federal Secretary and Joint Secretary stating that “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 of Pakistan, together with communities and partners simply needs 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. UNAIDS supports Government of Pakistan to translate its political commitment in strengthening HIV response in the country.
Ms. Aliona Niculita, Deputy Resident Representative UNDP Pakistan, emphasized the agency’s commitment to address economic, social, cultural and legal inequalities to contribute towards ending the AIDS epidemic in collaboratively working towards build resilient health systems to enable equitable and efficient access to services embedded with utmost dignity and respect for communities.
H.E. Ambassador Henrik Persson, Swedish Ambassador to the Pakistan extended his full support. He said as an ambassador I want to reiterate that the time to act is 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.
While addressing to the audience Dr. Luay Shabaneh, UNFPA Representative quoted that HIV/AIDS has to be integrated in high-quality sexual and reproductive health at all levels of health care facilities to eliminate stigma and make timely interventions.
Mr. Asghar Satti, Representative of People Living with HIV (APLHIV) said that with the support and whole hearted efforts of educating and informing the citizens against the myriad dangers posed by the HIV/AIDS rooted in ignorance we will meet success.
The Government takes the opportunity to thanks all the partners and stakeholders for their continuous support to strengthen the HIV response in the country and calls upon them to play their roles. He also appreciated the support of Islamabad Traffic Police and Boys Scout Association for their support. Mr. Mustafa Jamal Kazi Joint Secretary/National coordinator, MNHSR&C/CMU for AIDS, TB and Malaria, said in his closing Remarks.
In the end exhibition of artifacts and handicrafts were displayed by people living with HIV, jail inmates and marginalized women and girls. Economic empowerment initiatives have become an increasingly popular approach for the prevention and mitigation of HIV.