Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has said that the Sindh government is giving top priority to the health and education sectors, and it will fully cooperate with international organisations like UNAIDS for the AIDS Control Programme.
He was talking to Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific Steve Kraus who called on him along with his three other members to exchange views on fast-tracked approach to achieve HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in Sindh.
Talking to the delegates, Qaim said that Sindh was the first province in Pakistan that passed the Sindh HIV/AIDS Control Treatment and Protection Act, 2013, and prepared revised PC-1 of 3-year scheme at an estimated cost of Rs 1248.737 million to develop wings of the Health Department and implement the strategies between 2015-2018 to control the HIV/AIDS in the province.
He said that before this, Rs 637.161 million had been utilised to enhance HIV/AIDS Control Programme from 2011 to 2014, and his government had extended this service for year 2014-15 with a budgetary allocation of Rs 100 million.
Qaim said that under the Sindh government’s revised strategy, the authorities were establishing six new treatment and care centres for people suffering from HIV/AIDS at the Jinnah Hospital Karachi, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital Karachi, Liaquat University of Medical and Health Science (LUMHS) Hyderabad and Civil Hospitals Nawabshah, Mirpur Khas and Sukkur, where the Health Department would provide a new service delivery package to the people living with HIV/AIDS.
He said that in addition to establishment of district task force in 29 districts of Sindh, we have planned to open family health awareness counter (FHAC) at 105 basic health units (BHUs), 45 taluka hospitals and 50 rural health units (RHUs). He said that the purpose of these efforts was to control HIV/AIDS in Sindh.
Appreciating the efforts of UNAIDS to supplement the efforts of the provincial and local government in eradication of HIV/AIDS, the chief minister said that his management and medical and paramedical staff of hospitals needed the skills of latest technology and strategies for their capacity-building. Speaking on the occasion, Steven Kraus appreciated the efforts of the Sindh government and its team engaged in eradicating the menace of HIV/AIDS from the province. However, he said that access of people having HIV/AIDS and drug addicts in Pakistan to treatment facilities was only five percent, which in comparison to other countries was very low, whereas HIV/AIDS prevalence in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines in Asia and the Pacific was increasing. He said that access to treatment in Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia was even more than 85 percent. He said that among cities of high prevalence countries, Karachi had been selected as an important city by UNAIDS to make it HIV/AIDS free by 2030.
He said that his organisation wanted to work with the Sindh government and the civil society for the purpose. He further said, We have to enhance the capacity-building of medical staff, introduce opiate substitution therapy (OST) for the rehabilitation of drug addicts and give access to the people living with HIV/AIDS to treatment by increasing the number of anti-retroviral treatment (A.R.T) centres in Pakistan, especially in Sindh.
He said that previously, people living with HIV/AIDS were dying, but now there was treatment for them and we can save their life and rehabilitate drug addicts through OST.
He said that at present only 2 million people with HIV/AIDD had accesses to treatment in the regional countries of Asia and the Pacific but now as many as 4.1 million will get anti-retroviral treatment by 2020.
Sindh AIDS Control Programme Manager Dr Mohammad Younis Chachar while briefing the meeting said that at present as many as 8,752 people were living with HIV/AIDS in Sindh, out of which 6,188 belonged to Karachi.