M A I N   N E W S

PM calls for war against AIDS
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 1
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that the nation’s health delivery system would be restructured in the next two years to provide a comprehensive package of services to the community and to HIV infected persons.

Inaugurating a Youth Parliament on HIV AIDS to mark World AIDS Day at Vigyan Bhavan here, Dr Singh suggested that this package would include preventive services, promotional measures and interventions for counselling and treatment.

He said the National AIDS Control efforts should be taken out of the narrow confines of the Health Department. “It must become an integral part of all government departments. In fact, the National AIDS Control Programme should be mainstreamed into the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as an integral part of the National Rural Health Mission and implemented efficiently through the available public health network.”

The PM said by doing so, the country would be able to upscale efforts to the desired levels within the minimum period of time. “We need to act to effectively check the further spread of the disease. This then should be our priority,” Dr Singh said.

The Prime Minister emphasised that the simple logic of democracy demands that the country take up the challenge posed by HIV AIDS in right earnest. “India is today at the threshold of a major demographic transition with the age population favouring the youth. Our comparative advantage is increasingly a cheap and skilled labour force and a rising savings rate. But what if we begin to lose our youth to this disease,” he asked.

Dr Singh, who chairs the National AIDS Council, warned that if the epidemic claims the lives of youths, it will have serious consequences on the nation’s economy and its future. “Like all epidemics. AIDS does not discriminate among its victims but the youth are often the highest risk segment. We must focus on this threat to our survival, threat to our future.’’

Reposing faith in the “vast latent potential” of the youth, Dr Singh said, “The HIV AIDS programme is a major management challenge which needs fresh ideas, a bold vision and an effective strategy to mobile the society in the war against AIDS.”

Expressing concern over the prices of drugs for Anti Retroviral Therapy, he said, “With the rapid march of technology, the cost of detect HIV AIDS, as well as the medication required to keep the disease under control, is reducing, But this pace is not enough. Prices must come down further to make these drugs more affordable and accessible to all.”

He stressed the need for sensitising India’s pharmaceutical industry to expand basic research and produce low cost drugs and vaccines. "We need to strengthen our delivery system to provide treatment for this disease even while minimising drug resistance.”

Referring to traditional inhibitions about discussing issues related to sex, Dr Singh called upon the youth leaders to educate young people about the modes of transmission of HIV AIDS. “Similarly, you must also spread awareness about public health and hygiene including in the use of razors and during processes of blood transfusion.”

Dr Singh also released a handbook titled ‘Quest on HIV AIDS’. The handbook aimed at reaching out to the youth, has been brought out by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).

Speaking on the occasion, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss urged the youth to lend full participation to the government’s efforts to combat HIV AIDS.

Oscar Fernandes, Convenor of the Parliamentary Forum on HIV AIDS, said India had the largest youth population in the world and the youth can fight HIV AIDS effectively.


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