NEW DELHI: For ensuring 'Jan Swasthya', it's important to collate efforts in a strategic manner for achieving the country's goals by leaving no one behind as desired by Sustainable Development Goals, MoS Health Bharati Pravin Pawar, who chaired the World AIDS Day celebrations here, said on Wednesday.
The event was organised by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) at Dr BR Ambedkar International Centre in New Delhi, a Health Ministry statement said.
Aligning with the theme of World AIDS Day 2021 "End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics", Pawar emphasised on the need to focus and tackle gender inequalities, discrimination against the high-risk groups, inequalities invoice, income inequality and work on to provide social protection to the infected and affected population.
"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," Pawar said.
Remembering the history of HIV, Pawar said, "As you all know, the first case of HIV in India was identified in 1986 among female sex workers in Chennai. 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 programmes and to implement the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP)."
Since then NACP has been implemented in India as a comprehensive programme for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS, the statement said.
"The programme has been extremely commendable and has achieved success at the world level. Friends, I am proud to share that during NACP-IV, policymakers and programme workers from over 20 countries have visited NACO and its implementation sites to learn from our programmes," Pawar added.
She 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.
The minister reiterated that youth bhagidari is instrumental in spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS, the statement said.
Pawar also released various guidelines on ART Services and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis under the National AIDS Control Programme.
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 were released.
Also, 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, and National Technical Guidelines on pre-exposure prophylaxis were released.
Besides, strategic information reports were released, 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 and Estimate Reports -- India HIV Estimates 2020 Technical Brief and District Level HIV Estimates 2019 Technical Briefs -- were released.
Addressing the event, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan emphasised 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," he said.
Over 34,000 testing centres, more than 1,900 anti-retroviral treatment centres and over 1,400 targeted interventions are currently running in the country, which impacts more than four million high-risk groups and target populations, he added.
Alok Saxena, the additional secretary and director general of NACO, 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 programme and put on the most advanced, lifelong free Dolutegravir-based regimen which significantly improves the quality of life, the statement said.
Saxena 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 the programme , 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 the youth. Exemplary reach was observed through the first two phases of the campaign and similar response is expected after today's phase-III launch," he said.