World AIDS day is an annual event organized across the globe after it was first started 28 years ago in 1988. It is a day dedicated to raising awareness on the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning for those who have died of the disease. This year the observation was organized under the theme “Hands Up For #HIV Prevention” by the Manipur State AIDS Control Society (MACS).
Prior to the observation, MACS Partners’ NGOs Forum organized a rally to spread awareness among the people of Manipur. Chief Minister O Ibobi attended the observation as the chief guest while Health and Family Welfare Minister D Korungthang was the functional president. MLA Y Surchandra, MLA I Ibohalbi, MLA S Bira, Commissioner Health and Family Welfare PK Singh and Project Director MACS Hungyo Worshang attended as guests of honour.
Officials of Health and Family Welfare Department and representatives from other Medical institutes were also present for the observation ceremony. Addressing the observation function, the Chief Minister said the State Govt has been working to include syllabus for young students on the harmful effects of drug abuse and its related consequences.
He said the special homes for People Living with HIV (PLHIV) which is there in Imphal East district has been very helpful for the people and such homes should be instituted in all districts of the State. He asked the department concerned to send the proposal at the earliest. The Chief Minister also gave his assurance that the State Govt will provide a one- time grant in aid to MACS of Rs 1 crore for various projects on HIV/ AIDS prevention and protection. Further he said that even though there is serious constraints of funds and resources, the State Govt has given top priority to health.
Compared to other big rich States of the country which spend less than two percent of their Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), the State Govt is spending four percent of the GSDP.
Manipur has a doctor-patient ratio of about 1:750 while other States have 1:2000. Such stark contrast has made the State one of the most successful health care service providers across the country. Moreover the nurse and patient ratio here in Manipur is about 1:250, he added.
The Chief Minister maintained that the geographical location of Manipur sharing a porous border with neighbouring countries like Myanmar and other South East Asian countries has made the State a haven for drug traffickers. The State Govt has been working hard to curb such issues for the last many years.
“State Govt along with MACS and NGOs or CSOs cannot work alone to curb the menace of drug and other related issues which have been troubling Manipur and there should be active participation from the public,” said Ibobi. Even though the prevalence of HIV/ AIDS in the State has been decreasing compared to previous years, it is very unfortunate that Manipur is among the top HIV prevalent States across India.
It will take sincere efforts from all citizens of Manipur more importantly the stakeholders, NGOs, State Govt authorities, CSOs in stopping spread of HIV/ AIDS and make Manipur a HIV/AIDS free State by 2030.
Meanwhile Health and Family Welfare Minister D Korungthang said that mass awareness of AIDS and its related issues is a must. Such awareness can only be made when all stake holders including the State Govt’s authority, NGOs, CSOs and others work together with sincerity to bring a fruitful change.
Stating that ‘prevention is better than cure’, Korungthang opined that being aware of the prevailing situation of HIV/ AIDS has become mandatory for each and every citizen of the State. It would not be wrong to mention that the State Govt has been working tirelessly to provide all necessary assistance and help to PLHIVs.
Further he urged all leaders and stakeholders of NGOs, Church leaders, CSOs and others not to discriminate PLHIVs but rather give them comfort and compassion as they too are human beings. He also urged all NGOs, CSOs and others to take active step in spreading awareness of HIV/ AIDS.
He added that PLHIVs should not shy away from social stigma but rather be brave and come forward and be part of the changes which the world is seeing right now. As part of the observation, prizes were distributed to winners of the State Level Spot Painting and Written Quiz Competition conducted by MACS in November. The dignitaries of the observation also visited 15 stalls set up by different NGOs.
Source: The Sangai Express