Azad urges UN not to cut down aid for public health initiatives

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad interacting with UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon at New Delhi on Thursday.
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad interacting with UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon at New Delhi on Thursday.

NEW DELHI, Apr 26: India today urged UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to ask member nations not to cut down financial and technical aid for public health initiatives across the globe.
The request was made to him by Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, during the latter’s meeting with the UNSG at his office here.
Ban is on an official visit to India from April 26 to 29 and would be meeting the country’s top dignitaries, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday.
“This is an opportune moment, your excellency, for you to use your good offices to urge member nations to not reduce their financial and technical support to public health initiatives for the common benefit of the global community,” Azad told Ban during his meeting with him.
The UN Secretary General fondly recalled his long association with India and said it is an important member state. Taking cognizance of work yet to be taken up to achieve the millennium development goals, Ban said he would like to showcase India’s experiences and practices in dealing with maternal and child health issues for others to follow.
He commended India’s success in combating polio and said they would wish to help India in dealing with polio, malaria, tetanus, measles and HIV transmission related mortality.
Ban said, “Simple things mean a lot” and mentioned his programme “Every Woman Every Child” which has focused world’s attention on the right to life for every child and woman.
Azad recalled that the United Nations organized high-level meetings of Heads of States, Heads of Governments and Health Ministers from across the globe on vital subjects of HIV/AIDS and Non-Communicable Diseases last in June and September, 2011 respectively.
He also informed the UN Secretary General that the National AIDS Control Programme with 100 per cent federal funding has succeeded in reducing the number of annual new HIV infections by over 56 per cent during the last decade.
India has the world’s largest HIV surveillance network with more than 1,300 sentinel sites among key risk groups enabling effective targeting of prevention and treatment interventions to the right population groups and geographic areas and sustain an IEC campaign aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.
Azad said the Government of India has decided to carry the work against HIV/AIDS forward by funding the phase IV of the National AIDS Control Programme through domestic resources.
The Minister also highlighted that WHO has recently taken India off the list of polio endemic countries.
The Minister said the Secretary General’s efforts at sensitizing the global leadership about the challenges posed by rapidly rising threat of NCDs across the world – in both developed and developing countries, is appreciable.
Azad said ahead of the UN General Assembly’s special session, India conceived and launched national programmes for screening, early detection and treatment of Non-Communicable Diseases such as diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, cancer and stroke as well as for health care of the elderly as a pilot project in 100 remote and backward districts, spread over 21 states at a cost of approximately 245 million USD (Rs 1230 crore).
“Covering a population base of almost 100-150 million, this is the largest such exercise attempted anywhere in the World”, he said, adding “We have decided to expand these national programmes to the entire country during the 12th five year plan period, beginning from April 2012, to screen the entire population for early detection of NCDs and provide for treatment through free distribution of generic drugs under our attempt at achieving universal health coverage.”
Azad also informed that Health has been identified as the key thrust area in the 12th Five year plan and Government’s spending on healthcare is set to increase with greater outlay for the public health sector. (PTI)