Ministries must set 'sub-department of health': Harsh

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. (PTI File Photo)

Union Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said a 'sub-department of health' should be established within every ministry as health is the responsibility of all government departments.

Speaking at a ceremony here to sign an MoU between the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and the Ministry of Health to work towards the elimination of AIDS, he said such sub-department can be instrumental in assessing the health impact of policies of respective ministries.

"As health is the responsibility of all government departments, there is a need for a ‘sub-department of health’ in all the ministries for health impact assessment of the policies/initiatives of these ministries right from the conceptual stages," he said.

The MoU was signed to reach out to the vulnerable and most-at-risk population with awareness and prevention messages and eliminate the social stigma and discrimination against those suffering from AIDS.

Emphasizing on the need for innovations and bringing in newer ideas for taking forward the fight against HIV/AIDS, he said quality knowledge and widespread awareness campaigns have immensely contributed to combatting the disease.

Lauding National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), Vardhan stated it has played a big role in significantly reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country at a rate faster than the global rates.

He added that the impact of its programmes has been significant with more than 80 per cent decline in estimated new infections from the peak of the epidemic in 1995.

"Similarly, estimated AIDS-related death declined by 71 per cent since its peak in 2005. As per UNAIDS 2018 report, the global average for the decline in new infections and AIDS-related deaths from peak has been 47 per cent and 51 per cent respectively," Vardhan mentioned.

He further said that the government is fully committed to meeting all the set goals to eliminate HIV/AIDS by 2030.

Speaking on the key deliverables of the MoU, he said it will help in developing human resources and build capacity in order to strengthen the service delivery mechanisms for HIV and AIDS prevention, drug addiction treatment and referral to services offered by National AIDS Control Programme and Department of Social Justice and Empowerment (DoSJE).

The Union Health Minister further said that the MoU also aims at reducing the incidence of social stigma and discrimination against victims of drug abuse and children and people living with HIV/AIDS.

"It aims to promote enabling environment based on no stigma and discrimination," he added.

The MoU also aims at developing welfare schemes for social inclusion and empowerment of transgenders who face extreme social alienation, enhancing their vulnerability to HIV and drug abuse.

It will also seek to address the risk of HIV transmission among all substance users through preventive risk reduction. 

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