Prime Minister pledges to lead campaign against HIV

Kathmandu, December 1:

Marking the World AIDS Day, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal today promised to accelerate all endeavours to fight HIV/AIDS and to lead actively in making Nepal an HIV-free nation.

“National leadership promises to lead and support the organisations working in the field of HIV/AIDS in order to check further infection and to create a proper living situation for those who are infected,” Dahal remarked at the main function organised to mark the day at Tundikhel.

Dahal also assured the gathering that he would soon hold the meeting of National AIDS Council formed under the prime minister’s chairmanship years ago.

“I give you my word. Very soon I’ll call the meeting of the council,” assured the PM.

In its failure to deliver, the council has remained inactive for years.

“Embedded with the challenges, there are lots of opportunities to work in the sector with a global support,” the PM further said. “The opportunities should be cashed to overcome the challenges.

The government and international agencies should work hand in hand to fight against the deadly epidemic.”

According to governmental statistics, 69,790 people are infected with HIV in the country, with an everyday addition to the figure. It is estimated that an additional 50,000 cases of HIV are unreported, while a meagre 2,280 people living with HIV are on anti-retroviral medication.

The theme of the day this year was Lead-Empower-Deliver; identifying the need for increased commitment and perseverance in response to the challenges of HIV.

Minister for Health and Population Girirajmani Pokharel reiterated the government’s commitment to work in the sector. “People’s capability to lead the work in the field should be increased, coupled with a strong national leadership,” he sated, “Since the PM has expressed his commitment to lead, the campaign against HIV will soon achieve its height.” The minister stressed on an integrated approach, highlighting that efforts against HIV would not merely benefit the infected but would also save the population from contracting the killer disease.

HIV infected persons, industrialists, civil society members, and representatives of UN agencies also called for ending stigma and discrimination to the HIV-infected, besides pledging economic and social support to fight against the epidemic.