Millennium Post

Bengal No.1 in preventing HIV transmission in children: CM

State Health dept worked hand-in-hand with NACO to curb transmission of the disease

Kolkata: Bengal has secured top position among all other states for being able to successfully prevent transmission of HIV in children.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday tweeted: "Today is #WorldAIDSDay. I am happy to share with all of you that as per the assessment done by #NACO for 'Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission of HIV' programme for 2017-18, #Bangla had emerged # 1 in the country."

After coming to power, the Mamata Banerjee government had taken up a host of new initiatives in the health sector. Prevention of transmission of HIV into children was one of the top priorities of the government. The state Health department worked hand-in-hand with NACO to curb the transmission of the disease. Banerjee also tweeted: "This programme provided benefits to 16.5 lakh pregnant women in the State for prevention of transmission of HIV to the newborn. Free treatment was also provided to those found HIV positive #WorldAIDSDay."

The state Health department has been providing free treatment to HIV positive people through anti-retroviral therapy centres in sub-divisional, district and medical college hospitals. The state ranked first in a nationwide assessment carried out by The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) because of the efforts put up by the government to check the disease.

NACO, an agency under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, played an important role in controlling the spread of HIV and the treatment of AIDS patients since 1990s.

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) in collaboration with Gandhi Institute of Management Technology and a private hospital organised a health camp at one of its community halls on Sunday to create awareness about the disease. At the health camp, sex workers from Sonagachi and residents of nearby areas underwent free HIV test and other health tests. Sunanda Sarkar, the councilor of ward 18 under the KMC, had played a pivotal role in organizing the health camp.

"State Consumer Affairs minister Sadhan Pande and Member, Mayor-in-Council (Parks and Squares) Debasish Kumar were present at the programme. Bags, pencils and Horlicks were distributed among children," said Babu Sarkar, husband of the local councilor.

Students of Gandhi Institute of Management Technology encouraged local residents to take part in the health camp and the doctors conducted HIV tests. "We have done health checkups on a sizeable number of people from the area. Our main objective is to provide health care facilities to the sex workers in the locality," said Dr Rahul Ghosh, a doctor from a private hospital who attended the camp. While another physician Dr Sreemanti Bag said: "More than 50 people turned up for the check up."

In Sonagachi, the number of HIV positive cases has drastically gone down due to sustained campaigns. Mayor Firhad Hakim, state Power minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, Trinamool Congress MP Mala Roy and some students took part in an awareness rally at Bhowanipore.

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