Punjab has 56,928 HIV cases,and counting. The state is particularly vulnerable with regard to injecting drug users (IDUs).
This was stated by Dr N M Sharma,Project Director of Punjab State AIDS Control Society,at the CII conference on ‘HIV/AIDS Challenges and Opportunities: Partnerships in Prevention,Treatment,Care & Support’ organised at Chandigarh on Friday.
The conference was organised in association with Indian Business Trust for HIV/AIDS (IBT).
Dr Sharma called for corporate fund support to increase the scale and range of programs.
CII Chandigarh Council Vice Chairman Mr Sameer Goel supported the call,saying “business must give back to the community.”
He said the first corporate driven Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) centre in India was an initiative of the CII-ACC Ltd.
Speaking on the occasion,Dr Jasjit Singh Malhi,Regional Coordinator (CST) North,National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) said,”The focus is now on convergence at the level of the government,industry,civil society and voluntary bodies to deal with the HIV-AIDS problem,and providing treatment within the general health system.
Dr Malhi said businesses can lend support to the socio-economic needs of victims.
They can also launch screening facilities for their workers,put in place an in-house policy of non-discrimination,establish links with care supporters,replicate ARTs in PPP model in Punjab,Haryana and Himachal Pradesh or even donate fixed assets for such centres.
He said travel costs and loss of wages for the day were major deterrents to patients visiting ART Centres.
“Rs 500 crore worth of drugs were wasted due to expiry,as per recent reports. Pharmaceutical companies,which have a sizeable presence in Baddi,Himachal, can donate such volumes to those in need instead of the medicines going waste,” he added.
R K Mishra,Regional Director,Commonwealth Youth Program Asia suggested that the CII map corporate engagement in AIDS support across the northern region and post it on its website.
“The list should be updated every three months and recommendations and guidance prepared for the industry units,” he added.
Ambuja Cement,in a partner initiative with the Commonwealth Youth Program Asia,has set up a paper recycling unit which employs Special workers,including the HIV/AIDS infected,he informed.
The recycled paper this unit produces is in use at Panjab University and Punjab Engineering College (PEC).
Dr Vanita Gupta,Project Director,Chandigarh State AIDS Control Society said that among people detected with HIV positive in Chandigarh,the number of those have migrated from other states like UP and Bihar is more as compared to the city residents.
She urged that one of the ways in which the government can help HIV positive persons by giving by better access to legal aid.
Dr Narveer Singh,Director General and Project Director,Haryana AIDS Control Society,said businesses could issue family health cards to workers and have them go through bi-annual check-ups,including for AIDS.
He said 13 hookah bars were banned in two months in Haryana for turning into drug dens and underscored the need for parent participation in AIDS programmes.
Man Mohan Singh,Convenor,City Development Panel,CII Chandigarh Council,Mr Ravinder Singh,Vice President,Chandigarh Network of People Living with HIV/ AIDS also spoke on the occasion.