Kathmandu, November 27:

Leaders of various political parties today expressed their commitment to prioritise the issue of HIV/AIDS as one of their political agendas to combat the deadly disease.

Speaking at an advocacy workshop for political parties organised jointly by the WHO, Nepal HIV/AIDS Alliance and National Centre for AIDS and STD Control (NCASC), they said HIV should be addressed on the national level, as “it has become a major health problem in the country”.

Sunil Bhandari of the NC said HIV/AIDS should be included in every political party’s agenda.

Dev Raj Ghimire of the CPN-UML said his party has already listed HIV/AIDS as a political agenda.

Mahendra Anand of the Nepal Sadhbhawana Party (Anandidevi) stressed the need to implement the policy on HIV/AIDS, while the United Left Front leader Bacchu Rai said the issue of HIV/AIDS should be included in school curricula to create awareness among children about its transmission. Govind Singh Thapa of the Janamorcha stressed on political commitment to address HIV/AIDS.

Dr Amaya Maw-Naing, medical officer of the World Health Organisation, said political commitment was necessary to make changes in the laws and policy on HIV/AIDS.

Dr Rajendra Panta, acting director at NCASC, said there was a need to strengthen the ‘sentinel surveillance system’ and introduce integration programmes with the reproductive health programme.

“The government is facing a major challenge in establishing Voluntary Counseling and Training (VCT) Centres throughout the country,” said Dr Panta, adding the government would strictly follow the National HIV/AIDS policy 2006-2011.