CHANDIGARH, JANUARY 19,2020: Holding many firsts in healthcare in its fold for the Union Territory of Chandigarh, 2019 has ended on a good note. Thanks to the slew of first-time initiatives taken by the Health Department, HIV-AIDS cases in Chandigarh made the descending graph in the years left behind. Having earned the distinction of being a leprosy-free city, Chandigarh is heading towards HIV-Aids free city.
In 2010 the government medical college and Hospital (GMCH-32) has been designated as the state coordinating agency for Chandigarh and Punjab by National Aids Control Organization (NACO) to control the HIV-Aids epidemic spreading its pangs across the region. It identified districts and focus areas within a district for priority attention, resource and information collection in a systematic manner to understand the extent of HIV-AIDS epidemic and response gaps and facilitated evidence-based planning at all levels.
The initiative of the Administration has seemed to achieve its objective. In the past 12 years, a number of HIV infected patients have recorded a decrease from 7.12 percent positivity to 0.49 percent in 2019 revealed by the Chandigarh AIDS Control Society. It is also stated that in Chandigarh 100 percent of pregnant ladies were being tested for HIV.
According to the official data, in 2008, a total of 17405 were screened for HIV and of these 1239 were found positive which accounted for 7.12 percent positivity. In 2015, the percentage of HIV positive came down below one percent (0.98 per cent). A total of 75615 people were tested, of these 744 were found positive (0.98 per cent) while in 2018 a total of 1,01,614 people have been tested and of these 735 were found positive which accounted for 0.72 percent. By the end of 2019, the percentage of positive cases has declined to 0.49 percent.
The Project Director, Dr Vineeta Gupta has stated that HIV positive were being given medicines free of cost in Chandigarh so that they could spend a common life like diabetes and hypertension patients. She further said in Chandigarh there were two centres—GMCH-32 and PGI– where HIV positive patients were being treated. At present 6425 patients are being under treatment and of these only 11 percent of Chandigarh and remaining belonged to surrounding areas, she reveals
To sensitize the public especially youth, the Chandigarh AIDS Control Society has been organizing awareness campaigns and screening programmes from time to time in colleges, universities, construction sites, rickshaw-pullers whereby the public is being aware of “Dos and Don’t.
The official of the Health Department said that this was despite the fact that besides providing healthcare facilities to its citizens, Chandigarh also catered to the medical needs of the three neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. This puts additional pressure on its infrastructure and healthcare facilities and the Administration has to factor in all this while drawing up any plans on this front.
The target intervention programmes coupled with massive spending to control the epidemic have their impact. The society runs target intervention programmes among sex and migrants workers; among intra-virus druggists and industry, BPO and composite segment in collaboration with NGOs to educate the people about the danger posed by the disease and encouraged them to adopt preventive measures. “Prevention is better than cure,” after all says the official.
By Y.S. RANA