The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad launched the National AIDS Control Programme Phase IV (NACP IV). NACP-IV aims to accelerate the process of epidemic reversal and further strengthen the epidemic response in India through a cautious and well defined integration process over the five-year period, 2012- 2017. It consolidates the gains of NACP III and has a budget outlay of Rs 14,295 crores. The total government support is Rs 11,394 crores forming 63% of total share.
Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad announced two new steps to boost AIDS treatment efforts in the country:
· The eligibility for receiving ART has been revised from CD4 level of 350 to 500. This step will ensure that HIV positive persons are initiated on treatment at an early stage and while enhancing their longevity and productivity, it will contribute to preventing new infections as well.
· The second major decision is the introduction of Third Line ART for all those who fail on second line ART under the programme.
Reducing stigma and discrimination against HIV infected and affected persons and families will be another high focus area for the coming years.
The Health Minister also informed that HIV/AIDS Bill has been successfully tabled in Rajya Sabha during the ongoing parliament session. He said that that once the bill is passed it will provide a very robust framework under which the rights of PLHIV are fully protected and they lead a life without stigma and discrimination.
Shri Azad highlighted some of the key priorities of NACP IV like preventing new infections, prevention of parent to child transmission, focussing on IEC strategies for behaviour change in HRG, creating awareness among general population, etc. Some of the new initiatives under NACP IV include differential strategies for districts based on data triangulation with due weightage to vulnerabilities, scale up of Opoid Substitution Therapy for IDUs, Female Condom Programme, Multi Drug Regimen for PPTCT in keeping with international protocols, establishment of Metro Blood Banks and Plasma Fractionation Centre, etc., the Minister noted.
Smt Santosh Chowdhary, the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare said that the agony of AIDS is compounded by the high degree of stigma and social ostracism associated with this disease. Wider access to ART has led to 29% reduction in estimated AIDs related deaths during NACP- III. NACP has evolved to a great extent through the time. She said that there is need to continue and sustain efforts to remove this scourge. Society also needs to be more open to discuss it and control it. She said that women should be empowered towards controlling this disease. It is not merely a medical problem but a societal one. Secrecy kills efforts to kill AIDS, she added.
Shri Oscar Fernandes, President, Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV & AIDS speaking at the occasion said that about 50% of target has been achieved and more will be done in this field. Government will provide 100% funds one day and the targets will be achieved, he added.
Dr J.D. Seelam, Secretary General, Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV & AIDS said that NACP IV is still a bureaucratic programme and Zila Parishads must be involved in it. It requires more empathy and community involvement. He said that best way is to route NGOs through Zila Parishads so that it turns out to be a people’s programme which is people centric and people driven.
Shri Lov Verma, Secretary, Department of AIDS Control, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said that the third line of treatment which is commitment of Government will hopefully be rolled up by 1st April and he termed acceptance of guidelines of WHO as one of the major achievements. He highlighted that NACP IV involves partnership of National and International partners, there is community participation and it is a quality driven programme.
Ms Aradhana Johri, Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilisers emphasized that NACP IV has brought a human face. It has important aspect of community participation and its financial portfolio is larger in size than the plan allocation. NACP IV has secured the future of community for next five years as there will be no shortage of funds, she added.
A number of reference manuals, guidelines and fact sheets were released on the occasion. Present at the occasion were officials from the Department of AIDS Control, various national and international partners and NGOs