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'India has to lead AIDS fight'

india Updated: Dec 01, 2006 03:25 IST
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India’s recent initiatives in fighting HIV/AIDS would help in making drugs for treatment of the disease much cheaper, thus more accessible to the poor, former US president Bill Clinton said on Thursday, the eve of World AIDS Day.

Clinton, along with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi launched the National Paediatric HIV/AIDS Initiative with the opening of a new “centre of excellence” for treatment of AIDS-affected children, at the Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital in the Capital.

“By initiating new programmes to control the disease, India has contributed immensely to the global fight against the spread of AIDS and has showed great care for the patients who are affected by it,” Clinton  said.

The former US president was all praise for the National AIDS Control Organisation (Naco) and its tie-ups with global forums in bringing AIDS drugs within everyone’s reach.

“India can lead the way in this global fight because innovation imbibed in its cultural DNA,” he said. He also praised pharmaceutical companies which have agreed to sell drugs to the anti-AIDS programme for a cost much cheaper than the market price.

Speaking on the AIDS initiative, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi said India’s achievements in fighting AIDS were shown in the fact that many states, which always had a high rate of AIDS occurrence, have started witnessing a improvement. “The achievements of the AIDS control programmes in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra in particular have resonated in globally-acclaimed medical journals as well, which is very encouraging,” she said.

However, the fight, she said, was far from over.

“Our battle here is tough because the subjects of sex and sexually-transmitted diseases have yet to figure in public discourse due social taboo. That is why, the government should include women’s self-help groups in creating awareness especially in rural areas,” she said.

Before the former launch function, Sonia Gandhi, Clinton, and other dignitaries, which included French Foreign Minister Philippe D Blazy and Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, visited the newly-built advance anti-retroviral therapy centre for children, which is equipped with the latest apparatus in fighting AIDS.

The Clinton Foundation, headed by the former US president, has donated paediatric AIDS medicine for 10,000 children to be treated at the centre at the hospital and in six other cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Imphal and Bangalore, which will be getting one such centre each. Armed with the latest testing equipments and medicine, these would be zonal referral centres of the initiative, which, according to Ramadoss, has 1,800 patients.

Email Avishek Dastidar:avishek.dastidar@hindustantimes.com

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