Concerted efforts needed to address the challenge of AIDS

By Hina Kiyani

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on health, Dr. Zafar Mirza has said that as Pakistan joins the rest of the world in observing World AIDS Day, the day is both a reminder and an opportunity to harness the power of social change to impart awareness about HIV/AIDS. The SAPM said this while addressing participants of a walk organized to mark World AIDS Day here on Monday.
The theme of this year’s AIDS day is “Communities make the difference”, which essentially means that it is through communities that the menace of HIV/AIDS can be eradicated. Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination is performing the lead role in mobilizing financial and technical resources and advocating for the cause of prevention and control of this fatal disease.
Dr Zafar Mirza said that our work is more urgent than ever. I believe it is imperative to rethink our essential public health programs. We need to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of national and provincial programs, he added. It is imperative that we reassess the response that has to be generated to fight the epidemic said Dr. Zafar Mirza. We need to have a collaborative and collective approach to develop uniform interventions to address HIV/AIDS, he added.
He said that we need to probe coherent and more resourceful ways to understand the underlying reasons of the spread of the disease. As a public health person, I believe treatment is the last resort whereas prevention is essential: “What can be preventable must be prevented”. I also believe that it is through communities that we can mobilize and explore means of preventing the disease.
To address the underlying factors, we must rethink our efforts in generating response to combat the disease. Blood borne diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C require effective management of blood transfusion and injection safety procedures. Moreover, we need to have regular financing to sustain the existing interventions.
The SAPM on Health said that the Ministry of National Health Services has formed a task force on injection safety usage. The Government of Pakistan is committed to scale up the existing community-based HIV prevention model.

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