Merger plan

For AIDS, TB schemes

Published: Tuesday 30 September 2003

the Union government has drawn up ambitious plans for hiv/aids. A decision to merge the aids programmes with those of tuberculosis (tb) and family welfare was taken at the eighth conference of the Central Council Of Health And Family Welfare in Delhi. The council is the highest decision-making body on health matters.

While some integration already exists between schemes pertaining to these fields -- people visiting voluntary counselling and testing centres in high prevalence areas of aids are referred to tb centres -- the programme needs to be extended to other parts of the country. "This synergy would help in the maximum utilisation of available infrastructure," avers J V R Prasada Rao, secretary, (health), Union ministry of health and family welfare. For instance, both aids and family welfare programmes provide condoms -- one for prevention of the disease and the other for population control.

"Such integration would contribute towards reducing the stigma attached to hiv/aids, as patients afflicted by the disease would not be treated in isolation," opines Suniti Solomon, director, yrg Care for aids Research and Education, a Chennai-based non-governmental organisation. The exact modalities of the scheme are yet to be worked out.

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