HIV patients submit memo to minister

Bajura, January 7

A delegation of women living with HIV from Dailekh and Bajura submitted a memorandum to Health Minister Gagan Thapa at his office yesterday.

Women from Bajura’s Bahrabisa and Dailekh’s Rakam came to the capital to draw the minister’s attention towards the present plight of HIV victims in the memorandum. They also submitted copies of the memorandum to Women’s Commission and the National Centre for AIDS & STD Control.

“We’re on medication, but, as we can’t afford any nutritious food necessary for the intake of the antiretroviral drug, our health has been put to greater risk,” said Mina BK of Bahrabisa, one of the women of the delegation, urging the minister to ensure their right to life.

The six-point memorandum includes the demand of CD4 count machines at the district hospitals of Bajura and Dailekh, and the provision to provide nutritious foods along with the ARV drug. Besides, the memorandum has also sought full scholarships for children of the HIV-contracted persons.

Speaking during the meeting, Nanidevi Shahi, another HIV patient of Rakam, said she has been on medication for the past seven years. “Until 4 years ago, we used to get ARV drugs with nutritious flour, which helped maintain our health as well; our health has been deteriorating ever since we have stopped getting the flour,” she said.

Accepting the memorandum, Minister Thapa pledged help and instructed the National Centre for AIDS & STD Control to do the needful. Chief of the centre Dr Arun Poudel, on his part, informed about the preparations to provide nutritious food to HIV victims now.

“The practice of providing nutritious food with ARV drugs had to be put on hold for a few years due to lack of fund,” he said, adding, “From this year on, we’ll start distributing 5 kg of nutritious flour a month with the drug,” he said.

According to Poudel, 12,444 of 49,396 identified HIV patients in the country are taking ARV drugs now. He also pledged to do the needful to install CD4 machines in Dailekh and Bajura.