World AIDS Day is being observed worldwide to raise awareness of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. Like other parts of the world, the day is also being observed in Pakistan. The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day “Universal Access and Human Rights” is extremely important as it highlights the importance of providing access to HIV patients from all sections of the society as an inherent human right.
In his message, President Asif Ali Zardari urged government institutions, civil society, philanthropists and NGOs to put in coordinated and concerted efforts to ensure that Pakistan becomes HIV and AIDS free. The President pledged provision of quality health care to the masses without discrimination and ensuring access of the common man to both curative and preventive health-care as an inherent right. On this day, he said Pakistan is faced with a number of challenges, both social and economic.
President Zardari said, “It is quite reassuring that government attaches highest priority to the health sector and is focusing its attention to improve basic infrastructure of the health departments so that basic health facilities are available to the poor segment of society in the far flung areas of the country.” “It is quite encouraging that Ministry of Health through National AIDS Control and Prevention Programme has taken concrete steps to prevent masses from HIV-AIDS infection as well as providing them effective treatment, he added. “At the same time it is responsibility of all to complement government’s efforts,” he added.
According to the UNAIDS annual report released last week there were an estimated 54,000 new infections in the United States last year and 3,900 in Germany. There are an estimated 1.2 million AIDS sufferers in the United States, 85,000 in Britain and 67,000 in Germany. In Africa, 1,000 babies a day are still infected with HIV/AIDS through mother-to-child transmission.
AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, and an estimated 33.4 million people worldwide live with HIV, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history.
People living with HIV globally are:
• 33.4 million people living with HIV worldwide
• 31.3 million adults
• 15.7 million women
• 2.1 million children under 15