Phase II of campaign against AIDS delayed

Kathmandu, October 6:

The second phase of work for the fight against HIV/AIDS is being currently delayed by at least two months due to lack of preparedness on the part of the government. The first phase had got underway on January 1 and had ended on September 30.

The delay for the implementation of the second phase is being attributed to the complacence demonstrated by the National Centre for AIDS and STD Control, which has “not kept pace with the fight.” Money for the nine-month-long project, which had kicked off on January 1 and folded up on September 30, had come from the Geneva-based Global Fund for Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM).

The funds for the first phase of the project aimed at raising awareness level among migrants crossing the southern border was US $ 6 million. The amount had come following proposals from 25 Nepali NGOs.

The activities of 25 NGOs involved in AIDS campaigning included establishment of 16 counselling centres along the souther border and working towards voluntary testing and counselling services in six districts.

Those crossing the borders are given fitting kits which can raise awareness on AIDS while they are out of the country and susceptible to AIDS contraction from sexual intercourse with sex workers.

“We are facing a situation in which we are not able to go into implementation of the second phase project. The second phase will run until July 2008,” said Jagdish Bhatta, General Secretary, National NGO Network Group Against AIDS Nepal (NANGAN).

But he conceded that the first phase job has got cost extension, meaning arrangement has been made to keep the field activities going for the next two months.

However, UNAIDS functionary in Nepal has denied the claim that the second phase of the fight against AIDS was being delayed in a deliberate manner.

“The project is not facing delay at all. In fact, the two-month period before the commencement of the second phase is being used in a manner which will add value to the second phase efforts,” said Arrorita Mendoza, who is associated with UNAIDS which assists in the area of AIDS control in Nepal.

She said the concerned agency needs time to prepare and come up with better ways of handling the second phase. “In fact, the point is being made to come up with better results than in the first phase. Efforts include training partners in efficiency,” Mendoza further said.