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National Coordinator CMU and DNC HIV attended the two-day orientation session for National Prevention of Parent-to-Child Transmission (PPTCT)

The Ministry of National Health Services Regulation & Coordination (M/o NHSR&C) and the National AIDS control program (NACP-CMU), in collaboration with UNICEF and UNAIDS, organized a two-day orientation session for National Prevention of Parent-to-Child Transmission (PPTCT). The objective was to orient participants, including clinical and program managers with public health backgrounds, on key aspects of PPTCT and pediatric HIV management.
With support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GFATM) and partners, the Government of Pakistan has expanded the number of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centers to 75 nationwide, enhancing geographic accessibility. However, the current challenge lies in the insufficient number of functional PPTCT sites (12) and Pediatric ART centers (20). To address this gap, there is an urgent need to strengthen existing PPTCT sites and establish new ones under a unified, one-stop-shop model. UNICEF Pakistan #UNAIDS Common Management Unit, Ministry of Health Pakistan
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Dr. Razia Fatima, NC CMU, graced the occasion of the PR-SR Coordination Meeting

National Coordinator, Dr Razia Fatima, addressed the audience at the PR-SR Coordination Meeting on 6th December 2023 in December.

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Embracing Unity: World AIDS Day 2023 in Pakistan

December 1st marks World AIDS Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness, commemorating those we’ve lost, and rallying support for those affected by HIV/AIDS. 

On 1st December 2023, Pakistan witnessed a powerful and impactful event orchestrated by UN agencies, in collaboration with the Common Management Unit for the Global Fund (AIDS, TB & Malaria). This significant program unfolded within the artistic embrace of the Pakistan National Council of Arts.

A Gathering of Influential Minds

The venue was not just a backdrop; it was a symbol of the intersection between art, culture, and the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS. The event drew together influential personalities from the Government of Pakistan, United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO), and diverse communities. Their collective presence underscored the commitment to tackle the challenges posed by this global health issue collaboratively. 

Federal Health Minister, Dr. Nadeem Jan, said that the Government of Pakistan is firmly committed to eradicating the AIDS epidemic by 2030, aligning with the global HIV milestones. It is crucial to address healthcare & societal imbalances to ensure that no one is marginalized or left behind.

Speaking on the occasion, Iftikhar Ali Shallwani, Federal Secretary of Health, said “The world can end AIDS, with communities leading the way. Communities living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV have a greater role to play & need to join the frontline forces to halt the upward trend of the HIV epidemic.”
 
 
“We all need to join hands and connect for providing person-centered public health services, build trust, innovate, monitor implementation of policies & services, and hold providers accountable.” – Iftikhar Ali Shallwani, Federal Secretary of Health, while addressing on the occasion of World Aids Day.
 

Dr Razia Fatima, National Coordinator CMU, emphasized on the collaboration of all partners for to eradicate the disease.

Advocacy in Action

The program comprised panel discussions and presentations that delved into the intricacies of HIV/AIDS, shedding light on the latest developments, challenges, and strides made in the ongoing battle against the disease. The theme for World AIDS Day 2023, ‘Let Communities Lead,’ echoed throughout the discussions, emphasizing the critical role communities play in spearheading efforts to combat the disease.

Voices of Resilience

One of the focal points of the event was the empowerment of those living with HIV/AIDS. The program championed the idea that individuals with firsthand experience of the disease should take the lead in eradicating stigma. By sharing personal stories, challenges, and triumphs, these brave individuals became the architects of change, breaking down barriers and fostering understanding.

Collaborative Commitment

The collaboration between government bodies, international organizations, and grassroots communities highlighted the urgency of a united front in the battle against HIV/AIDS. The Common Management Unit for the Global Fund played a pivotal role, emphasizing the necessity of coordinated efforts to combat not only AIDS but also tuberculosis and malaria.

Community Engagement

This year’s theme, ‘Let Communities Lead,’ came to life through the active participation of organizations working directly with the community. Stalls adorned with information and resources from organizations like Dareecha showcased the impactful work being done at the grassroots level. These organizations exemplify the spirit of community-led initiatives and their indispensable role in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In a poignant play staged by the transgender community from Dareecha, the script artfully illuminated the everyday challenges faced by its members, providing a raw and unfiltered glimpse into their lives. The performance courageously portrayed the slow journey towards acceptance, urging the audience to empathize with the struggles often hidden from the spotlight. Through powerful storytelling, the play served as a heartfelt testament to resilience, fostering a deeper understanding of the transgender community’s quest for acknowledgment and equality.

A Call to Action

As we reflect on the events of World AIDS Day 2023 in Pakistan, the call to action reverberates. Beyond the discussions and presentations, there lies a shared responsibility to advocate for education, prevention, and support for those affected by HIV/AIDS. The day served as a reminder that the fight against this global health challenge is ongoing and requires continued dedication from individuals, communities, and nations.

In the spirit of unity, let us carry the momentum forward, breaking down barriers, dispelling myths, and supporting those affected by HIV/AIDS. World AIDS Day may be a designated day of reflection, but the commitment to change and progress is a year-round endeavor.

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CMU Cricket Team Demonstrates Excellence in World AIDS Day 2023

Sports events provide an important platform to raise awareness about various issues and their reach to a vast audience can not be underestimated. Cricket is the most popular game not only in Pakistan but across the sub-continent. Millions of people from all walks of life actively take interest in the game and cricket matches are an excellent place to raise awareness about major issues such as HIV awareness. Keeping this in view, the APLHIV has organized a Cricket Championship in Islamabad. 

This is the first of its kind event in the history of HIV response in Pakistan. Five teams from APLHIV, UN System, CMU, Dareecha Male Health Society and Speak Trust are taking part in the event. Large numbers of students, teachers, PLHIV, KPs and general public from all walks of life attended the event. All the teams are wearing red ribbons to show solidarity with the HIV community. Awareness messages about HIV are displayed across the ground and surrounding vicinity in the heart of Islamabad to raise awareness and combat the many myths associated with HIV.

In a riveting showcase of skill and determination, the CMU cricket team soared to the finals of the Cricket Championship, commemorating World AIDS Day 2023. Their journey, marked by victories and a commendable display of sportsmanship, garnered well-deserved applause.

 The CMU staff and management stood united in cheers, bolstering the team’s spirit throughout. The presence of the National Coordinator as the chief guest added prestige to the event. While the coveted victory slipped away, CMU’s collaborative effort, both on and off the field, stands as a testament to their commitment to awareness and excellence. Congratulations on a memorable journey!

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Dr. Razia Fatima, National Coordinator CMU graced the occasion of one day consultation for Stigma reduction organised by UNDP

Dr. Razia Fatima, National Coordinator CMU graced the occasion of one day consultation for Stigma reduction organised by UNDP in Islamabad.

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Dr Razia Fatima, National Coordinator CMU, at the Meena Bazar for World AIDS Day

Mena Bazar Extravaganza

National Coordinator CMU, Dr Razia Fatima, graced the Meena Bazar with her presence. The APLHIV in Collaboration with WHO organized a 2 day Meena Bazar—An activity by the community and for the community organized by the APLHIV in Islamabad. Since its inception in 2021 this event has become an annual event due to increasing demand and interest of communities. The objective of the Meena Bazar is to polish the skills of community members, to showcase/exhibit their skills and create linkages with customers for the future. Over 35 stalls by the Community from all provinces and regions of Pakistan were organized. The general public flocked to the venue and showed keen interest in all products on sale by the community. This event provides a unique opportunity for community members to show their skills to the general public while at the same time educating the general masses on HIV while challenging the many myths and stigma associated with HIV. Over 40% of stall owners are female & approx 10% belong to the TG community. This event provides a unique and safe space for public to interact with HIV communities in a friendly and convivial environment thus contributing towards empowerment of the communities. This event is a visual demonstration of this year’s theme for WAD i.e. LET COMMUNITIES LEAD. The APLHIV intends to provide ground to promote and encourage communities who are earning their livelihood and also provide this great opportunity for general public to be educated about HIV and help to eradicate stigma.
The event was attended by Federal Minister for Human Rights Ms Mishal Hussain Malik. Furthermore APLHIV’s partners from UNAIDS, UNDP, UNICEF graced the event with their presence. The event was also attended by European Council representatives, Ambassador for the Kingdom of Netherlands, various Diplomats residing in Islamabad, Boy Scouts Association, Islamabad Bar Council, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce, teachers, students and a large number of people from everyday life.
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Preparations of World AIDS Day 2023 are at full swing!

As the world progresses through time, certain issues demand our attention and collective action. One such paramount concern is the global battle against HIV/AIDS. Each year on December 1st, the world unites to observe World AIDS Day – a day that transcends borders,   cultures, and backgrounds. Its significance is not only rooted in remembrance but also in advocacy, education, and a collective commitment to eradicating the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. Here, we delve into the profound importance of World AIDS Day and why its observance is crucial for individuals and communities worldwide.

Raising Awareness to Break the Stigma:

One of the primary objectives of World AIDS Day is to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, dispelling myths and misconceptions that surround the virus. Informed communities are empowered communities. Through education and understanding, we can dismantle the stigma that often accompanies a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS. By fostering a culture of empathy and knowledge, we pave the way for a more inclusive and compassionate society.

Remembering Those We’ve Lost:

World AIDS Day is also a solemn occasion to remember and honor those who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses. It provides an opportunity for reflection on the profound impact that the epidemic has had on individuals, families, and communities across the globe. By acknowledging the human toll of HIV/AIDS, we renew our commitment to preventing further loss and ensuring that those affected receive the support and care they deserve.

Supporting Those Affected:

Beyond remembrance, World AIDS Day serves as a call to action to support those currently living with HIV/AIDS. It highlights the importance of accessible healthcare, treatment, and emotional support. This day encourages communities to come together in solidarity, fostering an environment where individuals affected by HIV/AIDS can feel understood, accepted, and embraced without judgment.

Advocating for Prevention:

Prevention is a powerful tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS. World AIDS Day emphasizes the need for proactive measures, including education on safe practices, regular testing, and the promotion of protective measures. By advocating for prevention, we work towards reducing new infections and creating a healthier, more informed future.

Global Unity in the Face of a Global Challenge:

Perhaps most importantly, World AIDS Day is a testament to the power of global unity. HIV/AIDS knows no borders, and its impact is felt worldwide. This day serves as a reminder that our collective efforts, regardless of geographical location or cultural differences, are essential in addressing this global challenge. By standing together, we strengthen our resolve to create a world free from the burden of HIV/AIDS.

As the calendar turns towards December, we find ourselves on the brink of World AIDS Day 2023, gearing up for a celebration that goes beyond the ordinary. This year, our commitment to raising awareness takes on a vibrant and spirited form with a unique blend of a Mena Bazar and a cricket championship involving all stakeholders.

Cricket Championship for a Cause

The spirit of competition takes the stage with a cricket championship that transcends the boundaries of sport.

Team Unity: Teams formed from various departments and groups within the organization symbolize the unity needed to combat the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS.

Awareness on the Field: Jerseys aren’t just about team pride – they become canvases for awareness symbols and messages. The cricket field transforms into a platform for spreading the message of HIV/AIDS prevention and destigmatization.

Celebrating Advocacy: Prizes go beyond the boundaries of the cricket pitch, recognizing teams and individuals for their active participation in advocacy. Best jerseys, team spirit, and advocacy efforts all earn their moment in the spotlight.

Half-Time Illumination: Beyond the excitement of the game, half-time becomes an opportunity for brief but impactful awareness discussions. Speakers will share crucial information, emphasizing the importance of collective action.

Mena Bazar Extravaganza

The heart of our initiative lies in the Mena Bazar, a bustling marketplace that promises an array of experiences for participants and visitors alike. 

Stalls brimming with diversity will line the venue, each one contributing to the collective effort of spreading awareness and support.

Culinary Delights with a Cause:
Local vendors will join hands with us to create a delectable culinary experience. Proceeds from food stalls will contribute to the cause, turning every bite into a step forward in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Interactive Engagement:

For those seeking a more hands-on experience, interactive stalls featuring activities, quizzes, and games related to HIV/AIDS awareness will be scattered throughout the bazar. Learning becomes a lively affair, merging education with entertainment.

Informational Stalls:
At the core of our awareness campaign are stalls designed to impart valuable information about HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and support services. The aim is not only to educate but to debunk myths and foster understanding within our community.

Crafting Change:
Handmade crafts take center stage, not just as beautiful creations but as a means to channel creativity towards a crucial cause. These crafts will be more than objects of beauty; they will be symbols of our collective dedication to combating HIV/AIDS.

In conclusion, World AIDS Day is not just a date on the calendar; it is a symbol of hope, remembrance, and action. It is a day to stand in solidarity with those affected by HIV/AIDS, to advocate for a stigma-free society, and to work towards a future where the virus no longer poses a threat. As we observe World AIDS Day this year, let us recommit ourselves to the cause and strive for a world where compassion, understanding, and support prevail over judgment and discrimination.

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Introducing the new National Coordinator CMU, Dr Razia Fatima

It is with immense pleasure to inform that Dr. Razia Kaniz Fatima has taken the charge of National Coordinator, Strengthening Common Management Unit (CMU) for TB, HIV/AIDS and Malaria under Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination (MoNHSR&C), Government of Pakistan. 

Dr. Razia having diverse experience in the field of public health including 20 years’ experience at national level and worked on important positions since March, 2008 including Chief Research & Surveillance, Advisor TB. She is a Medical Doctor and obtained her PhD in Public Health from the University of Bergen Norway in (2015), MSc Epidemiology from LSHTM UK (2008) and Master’s in Public Health (2009).

She represented Pakistan at various international forums, and elected as Chair of the TB Section for International Union against TB and Lung Disease and Ethics Advisory group member. She has published 65 research papers on public health in international peer reviewed journals.

She led the GF TB Grant Cycle 7 process with a challenge to submit in window-1 and successfully secured 185 million US dollars for TB grant through team work.

The team of Common Management Unit extends its heartiest congratulations to Dr Razia Fatima and wishes her best of luck for her tenure.

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DNC HIV, Dr Qasim Abbas with his team visited ART Centers in Sindh.

Dr. Qasim Abbas, Deputy National Coordinator (DNC) for HIV/AIDS, Dr. Saima Paracha, Advisor for HIV/AIDS , Dr. Hammad Habib, Malaria Advisor, from Common Management Unit, Ministry of Health Pakistan and Dr. Rajwal Khan, Strategic Information Advisor from UNAIDS Pakistan, paid a visit to Dr. Ruth K. M. Pfau Civil Hospital, Karachi ART Center. The objective of the visit was to over see the working of staff, data authenticity, challenges and issues in service delivery system for HIV patients. During visit information was sought from the ART Incharge and DEO. The team of CMU was accompanied by Mr. Zubair Memon, M&E Officer, CDC HIV/AIDS Sindh, Dr Sassui Wadho, Provincial Coordinator, Sehat Sahulat Program and Dr. Ghous Malik, Operational Manager (Sindh), Nai Zindagi, Pakistan. Dr. Sameera Haider briefed aboutr the Centre functioning and issues of (MIS). The visiting team appreciated working of the dedicated ART staff. However, the team assured that MIS issues will be resolved soon through expert team of MIS on National level.

The team also met with officials from the Malaria program.

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Friends of Pakistan Forum in Paris

National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination hosted the “ Friends of Pakistan Forum”, during the World Conference On Lung Health 2023, held in Paris. The forum was Chaired by Mr. Iftikhar Sahllwani, the Secretary MNHSR&C with the attendance from representatives of World Health Organization, Dr Muddasir Shehzad (Project Director TB Control Program Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Stop TB Partnership, USAID, Bill and MIllanda Gates Foundation, the Global Fund, Stop TB Pakistan, Dopasi Foundation and Bridge Consultants.

Dr. Abdul Wali Khan, the Manager National TB Program, in his presentation eluded on the progress in fight against TB and the way forward. Partners applauded the efforts of the ministry in keeping the momentum during and after COVID-19. Finding missing TB cases during COVID-19 was difficult task, however the accelerated recovery and catch up plan, prepared with the support of partners helped in meeting the targets.

Secretary thanked the participants and highlighted the key strategic interventions in place, which will help in finding the missing TB cases. He reiterated the commitment of Government of Pakistan made during the United Nation’s High Level TB Meeting on side line of the United Nation’s general Assembly, held in New York. He acknowledged the contribution of Civil Society, the local NGOs , technical and development partners in fight against TB. He also acknowledged the commitment of the provincial government, who have sustained the momentum by prioritising End TB as one of the top programs.