UNODC is cosponsor of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS - UNAIDS
Ambassadors from Sweden, Finland and Denmark Visit Guwahati, Assam
on 21st April 2008
Contributed by Pushkar Singh, North East Coordinator, UNODC ROSA (Shillong-based)
Ambassadors from Sweden, Finland and Denmark
H. E. Mr. Lars-Olof Lindgren and Ms. Delice Gan, Embassy of Sweden; H. E. Mr. Asko Numminen and Ms. Liisa Piitulainen-Numminen Embassy of Finland; and H. E. Mr. Olle Lonsmann Poulsén and Ms. Zareen L Poulsen, Royal Danish Embassy, undertook a special visit to the Guwahati, Assam on 21 April 2008. The overall objective of their visit was to gain an insight into the problems of HIV/AIDS in the North Eastern states. They were accompanied by Mr. Carl-G. Svensson, Counselor, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and Ms. Nadira Mailewa, Manager, Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
Ms. Nandini Kapoor, UNAIDS, with other officials during the meeting with the Ambassadors
During their interaction at the NACO sub-office in Guwahati, Mr. Shyamala Rao, IAS, Project Director, Assam State AIDS Control Society (ASACS), Government of Assam gave a broad overview on the HIV/AIDS situation in the Northeast India. Key development concerns i.e. migration, infrastructure development, poor roads, lack of employment and their relation to HIV were also highlighted. The distinguished Ambassadors, in turn, raised a number of questions pertaining to HIV/AIDS situation, drug issues and Anti Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) which were addressed by Ms. Nandini Kapoor, UNAIDS and other officials present.
Distinguished guests being welcomed
In addition, the following major issues and their effects on the HIV/AIDS epidemic were also discussed and deliberated with the Ambassadors:
Need for trained human resources to respond to the HIV challenge in the Northeast
Drugs and HIV and the continuing impact of drugs on the ongoing epidemic and the close proximity with Myanmar leading to easy supply of drugs
Livelihood issues for PLHIV as they are not able to access loans from Banks and there is a lack of employment in the region
Poor access to available services due to difficult geographical terrain with expensive transport facilities creating hurdles in accessing ART facilities
Lack of women and child friendly services in the region especially in the light of the feminization of the epidemic
Need for 2nd line of ART treatment in certain cases
Tribal, social and cultural factors affecting the epidemic
Unemployment and lack of vocational training for affected people
The officials present on the occasion were Mr. Arun Monga, Donor Coordinator NACO, Ms. Nandini Kapoor, UNAIDS, Dr. Pushkar Singh, UNODC, Ms. Jeroo Master, UNICEF, Mr. J Shyamala Rao, IAS Project Director ASACS and Dr. Niephi Kire, Project Director, SACS, Nagaland.
The distinguished guests
The civil society representatives were Ms. Eudora Warjari, Chief Functionary, Voluntary Health Association of Meghalaya, Ms. Jahnabi Goswami, General Secretary, Indian Network for People living with HIV/AIDS (INP+), Ms. Sharatshwati Mandle, Peer Educator, AIDS Prevention Society, Assam, Mr. Asif, Project Coordinator, AIDS Prevention Society, Assam, Dr. Lalsangliani, Director, SHALOM, Mizoram and Mr. Ronny Waikhom, Chief Functionary, CARE Foundation, Manipur. Also present on the occasion were staff members from NACO sub-office.
The meeting came to a close with encouraging concluding remarks by the H. E. Mr. Lars-Olof Lindgren Embassy of Sweden. Mr. Arun Monga proposed the vote of thanks.