Prevalence of HIV/AIDS has been in control in Bangladesh but attaining SDG goal of eradicating the epidemic by 2030 is a challenge, stakeholders told a roundtable on Saturday.
The discussants also underscored the need for integrating Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and HIV/AIDS programme saying both are intimately linked.
Prothom Alo, in association with Save the Children and UNFPA, organised the roundtable on the necessity of integration of SRHR with HIV/AIDS programme in the capital's Karwan Bazar.
Additional director general of Directorate General of Health Services Nasima Sultana said the government has successfully prevented transmission of HIV virus from mother to child.
She said the government is working to ensure that no one left behind in healthcare system.
Referring to increase in number of HIV positive patients in Bangladesh, Nasima said there should be research to find out the reason.
Director MBDC and line director of TBL-ASP of DGHS Md Shamiul Islam said the authorities have been working on the integration of SRHR and HIV programmes for the last one and a half years.
He said 28 screening centres have been established last year and the government has a target to set up more centres so that people can have screening facilities in the district level.
Former vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Nazrul Islam said Bangladesh was always a low HIV prevalent country but there is no scope for complacency.
He said technology is there in the country but these are not available to service receivers.
Dwelling on integration of SRHR and HIV programme, BSMMU’s chairman of virology department Saif Ullah Munshi said it is necessary for ensuring the best use of the government’s resources.
He said migrant workers and their families should be given priority so that they do not become infected with sexually transmitted diseases.
UNAIDS’ country director Saima Khan also underscored the need for multisectoral approach in preventing HIV.
Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Bangladesh (OGSB) president Sameena Chowdhury said social media should be used to create awareness about HIV virus.
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) specialist Julia Ahmed said HIV infected people have to come to Dhaka for treatment and it is costly for them.
Save the Children’s health, nutrition and HIV/AIDS sector director Shamim Jahan said although HIV is not prevalent in Bangladesh a big portion of population is adolescents who are at risk of being infected.
Dhaka Medical College Hospital's chairman of microbiology department SM Shamsuzzaman, Bangladesh Society of Medicine’s secretary general Ahmedul Kabir, family planning directorate’s deputy director Md Mizanur Rahman, DMCH’s dermatology and venereology department head Rashed Mohammad Khan, UNFPA’s technical officer Rahat Ara Nur, WHO’s national professional officer Sabera Sultana and Sex workers’ network of Bangladesh’s secretary general Aleya Akhter Lily, among others, also spoke at the roundtable.
Prothom Alo associate editor Abdul Quayyum delivered the opening speech while special affairs coordinator Firoz Choudhury moderated the roundtable.