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$11 million sought for AIDS control in Pakistan


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD- A proposal was recently submitted by Pakistan, addressed to “Global Funds”, whereby the country has requested for a funding of 11 million USD to carry on with its efforts against HIV/AIDs. On the parallel, the country has requested the UNAIDS, for a grant of 1 million US Dollars, which will be used for conducting a nation-wide study to ascertain the extent of spread of HIV in the country, and what is the exact number of people infected by this fatal disease.

According to a recent media report; It has been estimated that in Pakistan, nearly 91,000 people are living with HIV/AIDs, out of which only 10,000-12,000 are registered patients. The government is still clueless about the rest of the 80,000 people who are living across the country and are a potential threat to public health.

The Manager of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) – Dr Baseer Khan Achakzai said; Pakistan has funds to last till the end of this year, for conducting the efforts for prevention and treatment of the disease. However, requests have been made for more funds to continue the fight against the disease for the year 2016.

“Global Funds” is a multi-billion dollar international financing mechanism that gives funds to countries for fighting against three major diseases, including; HIV/AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis.

The NACP manager said; For the next year, the main focus will be to track down people who are living with HIV/AIDs and have not yet registered themselves for the treatment. He was of the view that; majority of these people are either immigrants, sex workers or drug addicts, who are reluctant to disclose themselves as HIV positive, because of the stigma attached to this disease. “These people have become a major hurdle in our way to control the spread of the disease and need to be identified and accessed on an immediate basis,” he said.

Achakzai further said; Once the amount is released by the Global Fund, Pakistan is looking forward to introduce 10 satellite vans across the country, to the communities where the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDs is high — in an attempt to track down the patients and register them for treatment.  Moreover, for the first time an advanced Management Information System (MIS) will be introduced in Pakistan for online registration and maintaining data of people with HIV/AIDs, he added.

Free food and education will also be provided to the children of the persons carrying the disease, so that their families can be protected from their disease during treatment. He further disclosed that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has shown interest for procuring medicines which will be used for the treatment of HIV/AIDs patients next year onwards.

Earlier Global Funds was procuring these drugs sooner, but the UNDP has expressed concern over the high cost of the drugs and declared they would be procuring them for 2016.

Considering the stigma attached to the disease, the UNAIDS is planning to introduce a  community-based HIV testing mechanism, through which the teams will visit hot spots, such as places where sex workers and drug users are living and test them there. Recently, an increase has been witnessed in the number of HIV positive people in Punjab and Sindh.

After the devolution of health ministry, under the 18th Amendment, Sindh is the only province in the country that has HIV/AIDs Control Law; however, it is the need of the hour for every province to have its own law for prevention, she said.

May 5, 2015

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