World AIDS Day widely observed in state

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Governor Gurbachan Jagat lighting the inaugural lamp of the state World AIDS Day as Chif Minister O Ibobi lookks on at the 1st Manipur Rifles Parade ground on Thursday.
IMPHAL, December 1: The World AIDS Day, 2011 was observed today under the theme “Universal Access and Human Rights” at various parts of the state.

The state level observation was held at 1st Battalion Manipur Rifles Ground with Governor Gurbachan Jagat as the chief guest and Chief Minister Okram Ibobi as the president.

Health and Family Welfare minister L Jayentakumar and education minister DD Thaisii attended as the guests of honour.

Addressing the gathering at the observation function, Governor Gurbachan Jagat stated that the World AIDS Day is a very important event across the world, particularly in the state of Manipur where the people have experienced the impact of the HIV epidemic for the last more than 20 years. Many young people have died due to AIDS related cases/diseases. A number of children have been made orphans and many young women widows due to this epidemic.

Starting from 1988, 1st December is observed as World AIDS Day. The slogan for this year is “Universal Access and Human Rights” on the theme “Getting to Zero”. The theme signifies zero new HIV infection, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related death. Zero new infections, zero discrimination are equally important and likely to spark high impact events from small scale community vigils to nation-wide events using the universally recognized shape of zeros and the power of light to get the attention they deserve. Zero AIDS death signifies a push towards greater access to treatment for all; a call for governments to act now, he asserted.

Governor further maintained that Manipur is identified as one of the six high HIV prevalence states in India, identified by the National AIDS Control Organization, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Statistics reveals that the magnitude of the problem here is very alarming in the sense that innocent pregnant housewives have been infected by HIV. It is learnt that 0.5 per cent of them are estimated to be living with HIV. Infection among mothers indicates possible infection among the new born children and also among the husbands. If new born children are infected, the future of Manipur will not be bright.

He suggested that small children should get utmost care and protection in this regard. It is the responsibility of the society at large, particularly women, to have a greater involvement in the fight against HIV and AIDS to safeguard the future of Manipur.

Governor further announced the official launching of Early Infant Diagnosis Programme in Manipur He stated that the programme will help in reducing 76 percent morbidity among infants on early ante-retro viral treatment and 75 percent reduction in the infant mortality on early ART. Earlier, an infant born to a HIV infected mother had to wait to attain 18 months for accurate diagnosis. Now with the availability of EID programme in Manipur, a baby who is born to a HIV infected mother can undergo HIV testing from six months onwards till 18 months of age, free of cost at selected Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres opened at RIMS, JNIMS, District Hospitals and Community Health Centres.

Gurbachan also maintained that two ART Centres will be opened at Senapati and Bishnupur and two link ART centres at Kumbi and Sagolmang. This will greatly help in reducing the distance travelled by people living with HIV/AIDS for availing Anti-retroviral drugs from nearest ART and LAC centres. Oral Substitution Therapy programme being launched today at Senapati under the Government Health Set-up involves substitution of the drug user`s primary drug use with a medically safer drug use and the primary route of injecting drug use with non-injecting route. This programme will be a window of opportunity for our youths to come out from their drug habits and lead a healthy and productive life.

The HIV and AIDS issue which is no longer a mere health issue has covered all aspects of life, social, economic, legal, human rights and even political. The sincere efforts of the officials and concerned activists of the State will not be sufficient in tackling this issue. The civil society has to be actively involved, he noted.

Governor Gurbachan Jagat further appealed to all to play proactive roles in countering the menace of HIV/AIDS in the state.

Emphasizing on the need to take up effective measures on the border areas, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi stated that necessary steps will be taken up at Moreh town to check and prevent HIV/AIDS transmission.

He stated that the people should be precautious while dealing with such issues as the state lies at the international border area.

Chief Minister further appealed to the people to render utmost help and cooperation to the government as well as NGOs to deal with the problem of HIV/AIDS in the state.

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