Islamabad (Khyber Mail): World AIDS Day was observed in Pakistan with a steadfast commitment to the global theme, “Let Communities Lead.” The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, in collaboration with the Common Management Unit (CMU) for AIDS, TB, and Malaria, the UN family, the Association of People Living with HIV (APLHIV), and other community partners, marked the occasion with determination and hope.

Dr. Nadeem Jan, Federal Minister for the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations & Coordination, reiterated Pakistan’s resolute commitment to eliminate the AIDS epidemic by 2030, aligning with the global 95-95-95 HIV milestones. Emphasizing the need to address healthcare and societal imbalances, he stressed the importance of ensuring that no one is marginalized or left behind.

Mr. Iftikhar Ali Shallwani, Federal Secretary of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, emphasized the pivotal role of communities in leading the fight against AIDS. He urged communities living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV to join frontline forces to halt the upward trend of the HIV epidemic. Shallwani highlighted the necessity of collective efforts, innovative approaches, monitoring policy implementation, and holding providers accountable.

Dr. Razia Kaniz Fatima, National Coordination for Coordination Management Unit, AIDS, TB, and Malaria, underscored the need to empower and trust communities in designing, implementing, and evaluating programs tailored to the unique needs of their members.

Mr. Julien Harneis, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Pakistan, acknowledged the rising HIV infections in Pakistan despite government and partner efforts. He stressed the importance of listening to marginalized people and providing them with the necessary support to combat the disease.

Ms. Yuki Takemoto, Country Director UNAIDS Pakistan, highlighted the potential of community leadership in ending AIDS as a public health threat in Pakistan. The event also featured a panel discussion with UN partners, government officials, and donors, including representatives from USAID, UNDP, UNFPA, and APLHIIV, among others. The panel discussed challenges, strategies, and collaborative efforts in the fight against HIV.

The participants engaged with Community Informational Booths set up by communities and partners, featuring educational materials and community outreach initiatives. The collective resolve expressed during the event signifies Pakistan’s dedication to creating an HIV-free future through community-led efforts and comprehensive public health strategies.

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