World AIDS Day Message from Dr Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health of Pakistan
The Ministry for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination joins hands with the rest of the world to commemorate the World AIDS Day in Pakistan. The theme for this year is “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.” and our Ministry is working with provinces to take steps to work with communities to halt the spread of new infections. As we all know, Pakistan has one of the fastest growing epidemics in the Asia Pacific region with an estimated 200,000 people living with HIV with 84% increase in new infections between 2010-2020.
While COVID-19 has affected the lives and livelihoods of the global community, Pakistan has met the challenge by establishing National Command and Control Centre to deal with this pandemic. Pakistan has not only managed to minimize the positivity rate but has an economy that is growing beyond expectations. COVID-19 is showing us just how interconnected health is with other critical issues, including increasing social and economic inequalities, assaults on human rights and dignity, and threats to the environment.
As the world’s attention is focused on the COVID-19 global pandemic, there is a danger that the ongoing HIV and AIDS pandemic could be forgotten, that the battle to defeat it might experience a setback, and that national and international attention and funding could be reduced.
That is why the Government of Pakistan, at both the national and provincial levels, despite competing priorities and fiscal limitations, and with the support of partners like UNAIDS, UNDP, WHO UNICEF, local civil society organizations and academia has strived to provide HIV prevention and treatment services through high impact community-based HIV prevention programme. With support from Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, we are providing free of cost HIV diagnostic, treatment, care and support services to people living with HIV through dedicated HIV treatment centres. Even multi-month dispensation has been ensured during lock downs through door-to-door service provision. We devised national and provincial AIDS Strategies, setting the plan of action for 2021-2025 that show support from the government to create an enabling environment with multi-sectoral engagement to address legislative, socio-cultural-economic, religious, political, legal, and financial determinants that can influence HIV awareness, education, prevention, care, treatment and support initiatives.
We pledge to lead efforts towards increased government spending to cover all aspects of the National HIV response especially along the HIV prevention and treatment cascade by mobilizing domestic resources and the integration of HIV services into the health system through our untiring support for Universal Health Coverage.
I am proud to be a part of this year’s commemoration and to reaffirm the Ministry’s continued commitment to empowering the people of Pakistan to end inequalities, end AIDS, and end pandemics.