M A I N   N E W S

Steps to fight AIDS at highway dhabas
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30
The Health Ministry has approached the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the hotel sector to explore if they would cooperate in making condoms available at all highways ‘dhabas’ (roadside eateries) and men’s rest rooms.

Announcing this initiative at a crowded press conference on the eve of World AIDS Day, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said they would also try to reach out to children who are abused by beach tourists.

The government’s new strategy is perhaps aimed at reaching out to people with high risk behaviour such as truckers, migrant workers and commercial sex workers.

According to statistics, 86 per cent of HIV infections in India are through the sexual route. He said he is not satisfied with National AIDS Control Programme I and II and his Ministry is very earnest about NACP-3 and has taken care to ensure the participation of global partners, People Living with HIV AIDS, industry and corporates. “NACP III will start soon. People are saying that this is the first module in the world that has been planned with so many stakeholders.”

He said the NACP III aims to strengthen institutional mechanism at Central, State and district levels to ensure delivery of preventive measures such as condoms to persons with high-risk behaviours. Replying to a question on under-reported fresh HIV infections, Ramadoss retorted, “If you could accept WHO figures of Malaria and Tuberculosis, I don’t see why you cannot accept WHO figures.”

Dr Ramadoss however assured that the National Family Health Survey-3 will give a more comprehensive picture through door to door assessment.

He however agreed that the government was lagging behind in meeting its target of covering one lakh Persons Living With HIV AIDS (PLHWAs) under the Anti Retroviral Therapy.

“We are running little behind on that. That is because it needs training of personnel. At present, 15,700 cases of HIV AIDS are taken care of by NACO.”

Dr Ramadoss said they plan to give ART drugs to voluntary organisations and hospitals in the private sector in order to reach out to the target beneficiaries.

The Minister said the National AIDS Council chaired by the Prime Minister holds the promise of better inter-ministerial participation to combat HIV AIDS. “Each Ministry is going to earmark Budget for HIV AIDS. The Human Resource Development Ministry has already earmarked Rs 64 crore from its own Budget. We are also going to ask for more money (one billion dollars) from the World Bank, Government of India and other global partners. Lets see how it goes,” he said.


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