Islamabad - The provincial government secretaries have been asked to come forward with their recommendations keeping in view their specific needs and the federal government would chalk out a comprehensive Pakistan HIV/AIDS strategy to address the menace in Pakistan.

Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar said this while addressing consultative meeting in Islamabad with all four provinces and UN agencies for review and endorsement of Provincial AIDS Control Programme strategies.

She stressed upon the provincial government and development partners to come up with suggestions that best suited to Pakistani scenario.

She said that it is very unfortunate that we indulges in unnecessary discussion by involving religion in health and education issues and interpret wrongly what has been asked from us by the religion. It is our prime responsibility to treat the poor and effected population by all available resources.

She said that it is a matter of pleasure that National AIDS Control with support of the UNAIDS & WHO has undertaken review of national and the provincial response to HIV/AIDS, which will form the strong foundation for the development of Pakistan AIDS Strategy III and the subsequent development of Concept Note on HIV for Global Fund Grant, under the New Funding Model.

The National AIDS Control Programme with the support of UNAIDS has carried out extensive consultative process with all four Provinces, stakeholders, civil society organisations, key Population (The Community) UN agencies and Provincial departments to review their strategies and suggest workable recommendation for a comprehensive response to HIV/ AIDS Prevention and Control in the provinces.

 Saira Afzal Tarrar chaired the meeting, while Marc Saba, and UNAIDS Country Representative for Pakistan / Afghanistan was the guest of honour.

She said that the provincial reviews of the AIDS strategies, has taken place, with active engagement and participation of Provincial AIDS Control Programmes along with key stakeholders, including healthcare providers, civil society organisations and UN agencies. The Technical Working Group constituted by the National AIDS Control Programme, including wide range of technical stakeholders provided oversight to the whole process which had an integral role for the successful accomplishment of the task, in a quality and inclusive manner.

The minister said that in post devolution scenario, she would encourage and request all the provinces to work upon HIV and AIDS bill to ensure enabling environment and to reduce stigma and discrimination. She appreciated the efforts by Sindh government who has already done legislation and looking towards its effective implementation.

Dr Baseer Achakzai said the implementation of the HIV response lies primarily with the provinces and the national response has the overall responsibility, to coordinate, monitor, analyze and guide the provinces on the overall response management.

Under the circumstance, it is imperative for the provincial colleagues to be fully cognisant of the outcome of the midterm review in order to fully understand the findings, gaps both programmatic and financial and the additional recommendations to improve the situation.

For the accomplishment of this there is a strong need for the provinces to fully endorse the quality work done by NACP.