India Needs To Enhance NACO, Recruit More Staff, Focus on Youth, Women, U.N. Official Says
The Indian government must improve its governing HIV/AIDS control body, increase the number of the agency's staff members and strengthen efforts to educate women and children about the disease, a U.N. official said Wednesday in an interview with the Indo-Asian News Service, IANS/Navhind Times reports. The National AIDS Control Organization "has just nine senior officials for handling the huge program," Nafis Sadik, special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, said, adding, "Though the resources are there, they have not been properly allocated" (IANS/Navhind Times, 10/13). NACO, which employs 15 full-time staff members, is charged with creating the strategies for implementing national HIV/AIDS control programs and coordinating the programs with local governments, nongovernmental organizations and other groups. Sadik said that "India is going in the right direction of progress" but added that the country needs to involve religious bodies, NGOs, all levels of political leadership, legislation and legislators in efforts to fight the epidemic (Xinhuanet, 10/12). Sadik urged the agency to integrate HIV/AIDS education into women's development programs because the disease has "a lot to do with [women's] vulnerability." She also urged NACO to boost efforts to educate the country's adolescents about responsible sexual behavior. "The first message for [adolescents] should be abstinence, and if they don't do that, we need to protect their health," she said. NACO is scheduled to convene on Saturday to establish the upcoming stage of the HIV/AIDS control program and to decide how it can be combined with other national programs. About 5.1 million people in India are HIV-positive (IANS/Navhind Times, 10/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.