To nowhere

Even as the 22nd World AIDS Day was marked in the country, there are reasons to believe that there is no concrete path envisioned to tackle the AIDS/HIV spread. Despite some efforts at the private level they have not been up to the mark in checking the spread of HIV/AIDS nor has the awareness been generated to the desired extent. This state of affairs has come about as regards a disease that has no known cure so far, all because the government or rather the Ministry of Health and Population has not taken up the frontrunner role. This is costing in the patients with full-blown AIDS and the HIV infected people not receiving all the health care that is needed. Furthermore, there is news that Global Fund has refused to provide assistance to Nepal citing the lack of clear-cut vision and monitoring of HIV/AIDS programmes. With this adamant stance of the donor agencies, the country is hard put to provide relief to the afflicted people in so far as medical help and rehabilitation are concerned. This may lead to further new cases emerging besides those that develop through unsafe sex, multiple use of unsterilised needles and the like. In this backdrop, the AIDS Day cannot offer any degree of complacency.

The official count of HIV/AIDS infected people in Nepal stands at around 15,000, but organisations involved in the area put the figure at 70,000. Whatever the number of the infected people, the disease is in menacing posture which means that a geometric progression cannot be unexpected. With the lean prevention strategy due to weak leadership and low funding, the future looks bleak. The lack of awareness on the part of the people who for the most part belong to the lower income bracket has complicated the issue despite the safe bets on prevention modules to ward off the scourge. The insurgency period had its own impact on the health service sector, but even today despite all that the government commits itself to the progress is nothing to be delighted about. The social stigma that HIV/AIDS carries still remains to a great degree which makes the task of rehabilitation difficult, but private initiatives seem to be working albeit in a limited scale.

With the country's slow progress in the prevention and treatment and spread of HIV/AIDS, the present paucity of funds makes it difficult to adhere to the AIDS Day slogan "Universal Access and Human Rights". In fact, the right to health has to be guaranteed for every citizen, which the state stands for, but the unstable political scenario has definitely played a role in wreaking havoc on the judicious selection and implementation of viable health sector projects and programmes not only related to HIV/AIDS but also as regards preventable and simple-to-treat afflictions like diarrhoea and cholera. The frequent changes in the leadership of the government are also responsible for the shift in the health sector priority, and it has been seen that even running programmes come under the tax when a new health minister takes over. Over and above that, in the lack of programmes through the country's own resources, an environment must be created for donor-friendly programmes the leadership of which must be taken up by the government in all seriousness.

Seeing green

Every once in a while most city folks want to visit recreational places such as parks. The parks with their greenery have a soothing impact on the minds of the visitors. They also add to the beauty of the city. Unfortunately, there are hardly any parks in the capital city to speak of and those that are there are mostly in a dilapidated condition. Even worse, some people use these parks to carry out indecent activities giving such places a bad name. The country as a whole could do with more parks that are maintained and provided with the necessary security so that visitors are encouraged to frequent such places. The parks could also be a source of revenue. People would be more than happy to pay a small entrance fee for the parks' upkeep and also for noble causes.

The case of Balaju Park, one such park, is most pathetic. It was once one of the finest parks in the country, but this is no longer the case. Anyone can see that this park has been neglected. This is a pity indeed as it is one of the most conveniently located parks in the capital. If this is the case with Balaju Park in the heart of the capital, then one wonders how other parks fare.