Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare chaired the World AIDS Day celebration along with Shri Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Health & Family Welfare. The event was organized by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) at Dr B.R. Ambedkar International Center, New Delhi yesterday.
Aligning with the theme of World AIDS Day 2021 “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics”, the Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare emphasized on the need to focus and tackle gender inequalities, discrimination against the high-risk groups, inequalities in voice, income inequality and work on to provide social protection to the infected and affected population. She said, “For ensuring Jan Swasthya, it’s important to collate our efforts in a strategic manner for achieving our goals by leaving no one behind as desired by Sustainable Development Goals”.
Remembering the history of HIV AIDS, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar said, "As you all know, the first case of HIV in India was identified in the year 1986 among female sex workers in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. In the same year, the Government of India established the National AIDS Committee under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Thereafter, in 1992, the government established the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) to oversee policies related to HIV and AIDS, to oversee prevention and control programs and to implement the National AIDS Control Program (NACP)." “Since then NACP has been implemented in India as a comprehensive program for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS. The program has been extremely commendable and has achieved success at the world level. Friends, I am proud to share that during NACP-IV, policy makers and program workers from over 20 countries have visited NACO and its implementation sites to learn from our programmes” she further added.
Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar also interacted with the students from across the country and discussed with them the activities undertaken through Red Ribbon Clubs in their respective institutions and areas. She reiterated that youth bhagidari is instrumental in spreading awareness about HIV-AIDS
The Minister of State also released various guidelines on ART Services and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis under the National AIDS Control Program. These are as follows:
1. National Operational Guidelines for ART Services 2021 which provide updated and detailed standard operating procedures for planning, implementing and monitoring of HIV Care Support and treatment services.
2. National Guidelines on HIV care and treatment 2021 which is a reference technical document for medical officers to provide updated and revised protocols and guidance for HIV AIDS related treatment and care.
3. National Technical Guidelines on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis
4. Strategic Information Reports – 3rd Edition of Sankalak Status of National AIDS Response. This is a flagship publication of NACO reporting the national and state-wise progress on various epidemiological and programmatic indicators for the year 2021.
5. Estimate Reports – India HIV Estimates 2020 Technical Brief and District Level HIV Estimates 2019 Technical Briefs.
Addressing the event, the Union Health Secretary, Shri Rajesh Bhushan emphasized on the fact that inequalities and diseases are interlinked. Reduction in inequalities give rise to access of healthcare services and access to means of economic and social livelihood, which ultimately decrease the effect of diseases. Since the start of the National AIDS Control Program we have covered a long distance. More than 34,000 testing centres, more than 1900 Anti-Retroviral Treatment Centres and more than 1400 targeted interventions are currently running in the country, which impacts more than 4 million high-risk groups and target populations, he added.
Shri Alok Saxena, Additional Secretary & Director General NACO apprised the audience of the National AIDS response efforts in the country. He said, “Despite COVID-19, the National AIDS response through HIV services has been phenomenal and continued uninterrupted. A large number of people infected with HIV are now connected to the program and put on the most advanced, lifelong free Dolutegravir-based regimen which significantly improves the quality of life”.
Shri Alok Saxena further added that “sabka saath sabka vikas aur sabka vishwaas has been the central theme of NACP with communities being considered equal and key to all our programs, thus ensuring last mile welfare and service delivery. Awareness campaigns are being conducted by schools and red ribbon clubs constituted in colleges in order to disseminate information among adolescents and youth. Exemplary reach was observed through the first two phases of the campaign and similar response is expected after today’s phase-III launch”.
Shri Alok Saxena, Additional Secretary and Director General, NACO, Ms Nidhi Kesarwani, Director, NACO and other officials from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, dignitaries from development partners and community representatives were also present in the meeting.