Dimapur, October 26: The Access to Rights and Knowledge (ARK) Foundation has termed the disbandment of the Legislators Forum for AIDS (LFA) as a ‘wrong move’ and said the battle against HIV is not yet over.
It said the LFA, which is a crucial platform to bring the highlights and advocacy needs of HIV from the perspective of the nodal and local NGO/CSO partners to the members of the Legislative Assembly in terms of policy making is crucial as was before.
Towards this, the ARK Foundation appreciated the former and present 60 MLAs for their immense political action towards the contribution for the cause of HIV in the state. However, it lamented that the discontinuation of the Forum would result in a huge setback by disconnecting the elected leaders with the Nodal Department (NSACS) and other local NGO partners in terms of the “big picture” pertaining HIV & AIDS in Nagaland as a concerted effort.
In a press release, ARK Foundation president, Ketho Angami said the line of connection and channel of communication must continue to flow when it comes to crucial agendas such as “appointment of Ombudsman”, “providing budgetary allocations for the HIV/AIDS act 2017”, and other emerged and ever emerging concerns toward ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
This platform that existed since 2007 through the support and facilitation of UNAIDS India Country Office at New Delhi, was a significant medium to keep the elected Members of the Legislative Assembly engaged proactively as a collaborated fight against the epidemic, he added.
The Foundation further stated that HIV Case scenario in Nagaland has not decreased while on the other hand has seen an increase over the past years with the adult prevalence rate of 1.15% (NACO HIV estimation 2017- Source NSACS website) and still ranking 3rd highest in the country.
It said the Covid19 Pandemic has halted progress in several public health programs including HIV resulting in derailing many HIV program services in Nagaland, therefore, it is of supreme importance that the Forum is reactivated to provide political guidance and support to NSACS and NGOs to reverse and halt the AIDS epidemic.
Meanwhile, ARK Foundation also applauded the efforts made by NSACS in collaboration with partner NGOs for initiating various innovations towards mitigating the Covid hit crises and ensuring continuum service delivery and for working towards rebuilding the program given this present scenario.
Amid all the challenges that lies ahead towards achieving the UN target, ARK foundation urged the MLAs to reconsider their decision to discontinue the forum and for which the present UNAIDS Country Director, Dr. Bilali Camara, has also assured his willingness to provide technical and other support to the LFA, during a recent virtual meeting organized by Kripa Foundation.
ARK Foundation president mentioned “LFA is a superb concept and should not be disbanded but rather continued through restoring, revival, and revamping the action plans of the forum. AIDS in Nagaland is not yet over so also the investment should not be discontinued”.
Further ARK Foundation also called upon the Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio to revitalize the AIDS Council, during this crucial period so as to contain, halt and reverse the AIDS epidemic in Nagaland. (Page News Service)