Statement by Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on
Agenda Item 10 Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declarations on HIV/AIDS
New York (11 June 2012)
Despite considerable gains in different parts of the world, we are not likely to achieve our shared vision of “zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths” in the near future.
- The overall thrust of the Secretary General’s latest report is positive in regard to the number of newly infected persons including children and adolescents as well as AIDS related deaths. Unfortunately, however, this progress varies considerably between countries and regions and HIV remains the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age at the global level. The current level of international response is unlikely to suffice to meet the 2015 targets reaffirmed in last year’s Political Declaration. This is a worrisome situation. On the positive side, after four decades of struggle against HIV/AIDS, the international community is better informed and equipped to deal with the menace.
- Until recently a “low prevalence” country, Pakistan now finds itself in a ‘concentrated phase’ of the epidemic. Among the key affected populations, People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) exhibited the highest HIV prevalence at 27.2 % in 2011. According to the latest national estimates, there are approximately 98,000 cases of HIV/AIDS in Pakistan. The geographic trend of the epidemic is expanding from major urban cities to smaller cities and towns. However, latest prevalence estimation models indicate that fortunately the HIV prevalence among general adult population is still below 0.1%. This stands us in good stead to contain the epidemic.
- Response to the HIV epidemic in Pakistan has been a coordinated effort of the government, along with bilateral and multilateral donors, the UN System and civil society. The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) has come a long way since 1986 to develop into a comprehensive and effective response to the threat of HIV and AIDS epidemic in Pakistan. The Government’s response was in three five year phases between 1987 and 2010. However, following devolution of Health to the provinces in 2011, each province is developing its own provincial AIDS strategy tailored to specific needs. The final document ‘Pakistan AIDS Strategy (PAS) 2012-2016’ will consolidate the provincial strategies in line with national health and development priorities, and international development goals including the MDGs.
- The main goal of PAS is to prevent new infections and improve health and quality of life of people living with HIV. The programme provides strategic direction and its operationalization involves all stakeholders including non-governmental organizations, and community based organizations.
- Majority of AIDS victims live in developing countries. The problem of HIV/AIDS cannot be addressed as a health or human rights issue alone. It has a strong development side. Poverty directly contributes to situations conducive to spread of HIV/AIDS. It also exacerbates lack of access to medical treatment and social facilities required by the victims of HIV/AIDS. Therefore, combating HIV/AIDS and eradicating poverty must go hand in hand. This cannot be achieved without active and determined cooperation of the international community.
- Less emphasis on profits, new research and information sharing are necessary for low cost drugs. We support the Secretary General’s call for increased global cooperation to meet the agreed commitments to universalize access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. In this regard, public good should trump corporate interest.
I thank you Mr. President.