United Nations/New Delhi, June 9:

Admitting that India needs to adopt the fast-track targets proposed by UNAIDS, Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda has stressed the need to reach out to 90 per cent of the people in need of treatment for HIV.

Union Health Minister JP Nadda

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly’s High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS on Wednesday, the Minister sought more investments from foreign countries as India could not give the epidemic a chance to rebound, a Health Ministry statement made available in New Delhi said.

“Prevention must not be forgotten. This is a time when we must maximize the impact of all known prevention and treatment efforts. HIV service delivery can become a model for expanding overall health coverage,” said Nadda.

He said: “The role of international assistance and cooperation cannot be underestimated. This is the time for developed countries to do more, not less, and enhance their commitments.”

According to the statistics, India, which faced the spectre of facing disastrous consequences of AIDS epidemic 15 years ago, has been able to manage the challenge effectively, the statement said.

Deaths due to AIDS have been reduced by nearly 55 per cent since 2007. New HIV infections have been reduced by 66 per cent since 2000 and about one million people affected by AIDS are currently on antiretroviral therapy.

“Targeted interventions based on close collaboration with and empowerment of communities and civil society with appropriate funding from the government have helped deliver key life saving services to the affected population,” Nadda told the meeting.

The minister said the vulnerable populations, particularly women and girls, need protection from sexual abuse, exploitation and violence.

“Societal change is slow, but we must not give up on the principal value that all men and women are created equal,” said Nadda.

Emphasising on the unity among the nations of the world to end AIDS epidemic, Nadda said: “All forms of cooperation including North-South, South-South cooperation, multilateral and bilateral cooperation; and collaboration between governments, private sector and civil society must be strengthened.”

“The multi-sectoral response to AIDS should not be sacrificed in favour of a narrow bio-medical approach. The only way we can decisively finish the epidemic is by being united in our efforts,” said Nadda.

“Strong political will and concerted targeted action over the last decade and a half have contributed to strong achievements in pushing back the epidemic,” he added.

According to statistics by the Government, more than 80 per cent of the anti-retroviral drugs used globally are supplied by the Indian pharmaceutical industry.

Thailand on Wednesday became the first nation to have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and syphilis, becoming the first country in Asia and the Pacific region to do so. (IANS)