LAHORE, November 27:Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid emphasized need to increase awareness on HIV/AIDS through joint efforts of all stakeholders at a meeting with delegation of UNAIDS at the Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education Department here on Friday. UNAIDS Country Director for Pakistan and Afghanistan Dr. Maria Elena Fillia Borromeo led the visiting delegation which comprised Community Support Advisor Ms. Fahmida Khan and Dr. Rajwal Khan. National Deputy Program Manager Dr. Ayesha Isani, Director Punjab AIDS Control Program Dr. Munir Ahmed and HIV Consultant Dr. Irfan Ahmed also attended the meeting.
The Health Minister discussed treatment and prevention strategies on HIV/AIDS and special support for HIV/AIDS patients as part of the universal health coverage. The delegation appreciated Dr. Yasmin Rashid for her personal interest in the efforts to control HIV/AIDS.
The Health Minister said, “Punjab is providing free of cost treatment and diagnostic services to over 9,000 patients. Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved provision of free health coverage. On directions from Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar we have launched Insaf Medicine Card to provide free medicines for TB, Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS patients. Even during lockdowns, the government continued the provision of free medicines to HIV/AIDS patients.
Free diagnostics services for HIV/AIDs are available for all patients. Free screening services are being provided to bus and truck drivers as well as prisoners. All stakeholders must sit together to and devise strategies to create more and more awareness. There must be Master Trainers for HIV/AIDS at every district.”The delegation said Punjab has screened a large of people and the key stakeholders will work with the Punjab government to control HIV/AIDS.
The Minister also shared with the visiting delegation that Punjab has enhanced the testing capacity and the reason for increase in number of cases is lack of compliance with the SOPs. She said Punjab was also implementing a number of programs including Thalessemia Program.