KP’s anti-Aids strategy: Lady health workers in the vanguard
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department has planned to benefit from the services of lady health workers for containing HIV/Aids in the province.
According to the officials at the department, the Provincial Aids Control Programme has developed a four-year (2012-16) programme in which LHWs are given a leading role for creating public awareness of the deadly disease at community level.
They told Dawn that 1,000 HIV/Aids cases had been reported in the province so far this year but the number could be much bigger as a sizeable population didn’t undergo screening for the disease fearing isolation in society.
The officials said under the programme for which a work plan was being made, the health department had decided to engage
13,000 LHWs in the Aids Control Programme.
“LHWs were governed by the federal government until the decentralisation of the health ministry but now, they are at the disposal of the provincial health department and therefore, we have decided to give them the critical role of scaling up public awareness of HIV transmission, safe sex practices and family planning methods.
“These LHWs will be trained on prevention of HIV and hepatitis,” a relevant official said.
According to him, 20 per cent of injecting drug users tested positive for HIV in Peshawar in 2011.
He said the HIV-infected Pakistanis continued to be deported from the Middle East, especially UAE, before they transmitted the deadly disease to their ignorant wives.
The official said the main focus of the activity would be on women through LHWs, who were already working with the household in the community.
He said the province had a better chance of coping with HIV in the post-devolution regime through local and socially acceptable interventions.
“Previously, the provinces were bound to implement the strategies made by the National Aids Control Programme but now we can directly contact donor agencies for funding,” he said.
The official said the province expected more funds than before because the government had designed several interventions that were genuine and donors would support them. The province got lesser donor-driven projects under the health ministry, he added.“We also plan reducing dependence on a single external funding; adapting a design that helps implement the programme at the grassroots level with rigorous monitoring and evaluation to get desired outcome,” he said.
The official said the challenges over the next five years were to expand coverage, seek greater integration of HIV into health and social services, ensure domestic funding and increase both effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Aids-related spending.He said implemented as of June 2011, devolution of the health ministry could prove a blessing in disguise as earlier, the centralised strategies often clashed with local customs and traditions at the provincial level.
The official said for the programme’s implementation in August, the department would provide training to LHWs and doctors on HIV awareness besides focusing on its prevention among IDUs.