As of 15th December 2012, the total number of reported HIV cases in Nepal is 13,718 male and 7,817 female, according to National Center for AIDS and STD Control. Among these reported cases in 15th July 2012, the highest HIV infection among men were among injecting drug users and for female, it was among housewives with 2,750 and 5,331 infections respectively. Since there are increasing numbers of HIV infections being reported, it is still doubtful to achieve zero new infections in the years to come, yet the government is making out another attempt to make it happen.
Government of Nepal, different civil society organizations and external development partners has induced an investment plan in order to bring zero new HIV infection in Nepal that is slated to last for 3 years. The question is will the investment plan really achieve zero new HIV infection in these years to come?
Nepal has presented Nepal HIV Investment Plan to also achieve zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths by committing to focus on HIV investment. The plan has concentrated more on the areas where proper and strong investment is needed to achieve good results as targeted. The Investment Plan that is produced within the framework of Nepal National HIV Strategy 2011-2016, is putting forward with the slogan ‘Getting to Zero’ and is a joint venture among Government of Nepal, and development partners, both national and international.
Dr Tirtharaj Burlakoti, Policy, Planning, and International Cooperation Chief, MoHP (Ministry of Health and Population) says, ‘the Nepal’s HIV burden has been slowed down and we shall take this as an achievement and be proud of that’.
Earlier to this plan, there have been many investments with a strong vision of fighting against the HIV burden. With such investments, there have been notable achievements in reducing the HIV burden. The experts have said the investment to be tightly planned making it unable to achieve the goal set before. The experts claim the previous investments not to be enough to make great impact. Dr Burlakoti shares, ‘the newly set investment plan will address every inch of the needy area to make huge differences.’
To make the investment effective, the HIV testing system in Nepal must be prioritized without being late and it should be focused primarily towards most affected populations. There are different initiatives that provides evidences and tools for applying effective means and medium to invest widely, naming the UNAIDS ‘Treatment 2015’ and WHO HIV Treatment Guidelines.
The partnership among HIV communities along with their dedicated input shall enforced strategic investments and is a principal appeal of the Investment Plan. Dr. Naresh Pratap KC, director of Nepal’s National Centre for AIDS and STD Control said, ‘meaningful involvement of such communities is a must within the development of the plan because such communities can provide effective information to address the HIV burden and invest on it.’
The progress on reducing HIV burden is on the positive pathway. Dr Ruben F del Prado, UNAIDS Representative to Nepal and Bhutan says, ‘the anti-retroviral treatment has hugely helped in preventing new infection and if we take the benefit, the progress can be double-paced’. Kul Chandra Gautam, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF says, ‘a lot of resources is needed to reduce the HIV burden but intelligent use of the resources is important among government, civil society organization and other development partners.’
If this Investment Plan gets a wise and intelligent ground for the investment, the plan set to bring zero new infection, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths can be achieved but cannot be assured.