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Health Ministry signs MoU with Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment for enhanced outreach on HIV/AIDS prevention

“As health is the responsibility of all Government departments, there is a need for a ‘sub-department of health’ in all the Ministries for health impact assessment of the policies/initiatives of these Ministries right from the conceptual stages.” This was stated by Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare as he presided over the MoU signing ceremony between National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and Department of Social Justice and Empowerment (DoSJE) under Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MoSJE), here today. Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey Minister of State (HFW) and Shri Rattan Lal Kataria, Minister of State (DoSJE) along with Ms. Preeti Sudan, Secretary (HFW) and Ms. Nilam Sawhney, Secretary (DoSJE) were also present at the MoU signing ceremony. The MoU was signed by Shri Sanjeeva Kumar, Special Secretary & Director General (NACO & RNTCP) and Smt. Upma Srivastava, Additional Secretary (DoSJE). This is the 18th such MoU with other Government departments/Ministries.

Emphasizing on the need for innovations and newer ideas and thoughts for taking forward the fight against HIV/AIDS, Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that good quality knowledge and widespread awareness campaigns about the disease have immensely contributed to combatting it. Dr Harsh Vardhan said that this is the age of innovations and ideas and the kind of results we are expecting cannot be achieved through routine activities. “Some of the brightest ideas have come from the grassroots and it is therefore pertinent that we involve the grassroots people in all our strategy deliberations through regular brainstorming,” he stressed. He urged for synergies and alliances to be forged with various stakeholders in order to learn from their best practices.

Appreciating NACO for its notable achievements, Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that it is indeed commendable that NACO has worked with some of the most vulnerable people. It has played a very big role in significantly reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country, and that too faster than the global rates. He added that the impact of the programme has been significant with more than 80% decline in estimated new infections from peak of epidemic in 1995. “Similarly, estimated AIDS related death declined by 71% since its peak in 2005. As per UNAIDS 2018 report, the global average for decline in new infections and AIDS related deaths from peak has been 47% and 51% respectively,” Dr Harsh Vardhan mentioned. He further said that the Government is fully committed for meeting all the set goals to eliminate HIV/AIDS by 2030.

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