HIV infected people threaten to boycott national AIDS conference
KATHMANDU, Nov 26: While accusing the government of spending huge amount of money allocated for HIV/AIDS in mega conferences, people living with HIV/AIDS have decided to boycott the fourth national AIDS conference that is scheduled to be held on December 1-4 in Pokhara. They said such conferences hold no meaning when many infected people are dying in the lack of proper medication and care.
The National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nepal (NAP+N), a national network of HIV infected people, said the organization has formally decided not to take part in the conference.
"HIV infected orphans are dying while infected women are living a miserable life in the lack of care and support," Basanta Chhetry of NAP+N said adding, "We extremely object to the govenrment´s wasting funds meant for HIV infected in jamborees."
The venue for the conference has been fixed at Fulbari Resort in Pokhara.
Likewise, National Federation of Women Living with HIV/AIDS said the organization also has strong reservations over the preparations to hold the conference in Pokhara and it has yet to decide about its participation. "We will make our formal decision after Monday´s meeting with NCASC director," Muna Serchan of the organization said.
The National Center for AIDS and STD Control (NCASC) under the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) said more than 1,000 delegates will participate in the conference. Officials at the center said research scientists, medical doctors, public health experts, policy makers, and representatives of donor agencies have been invited to the conference.
"How can the government justify such a huge expenditure being made for transporting and accommodating such a large number of delegates at Fulbari Resort," Chhetri said. He said that millions of rupees will be spent in the conference but HIV infected people living in far-flung areas cannot afford to come to Pokhara to tell their problems.
The association said that several care centers, which have been providing effective care to infected people are closing due to funds crunch, children are born with HIV and there are not enough viral load machines to monitor the effectiveness of antiretroviral (ART) drugs. The association also complained that the NCASC has not been releasing small funds that have already been committed to organizations working at the grassroots level. The NCASC had agreed to provide Rs 1,500 per head in allowances to 2,200 HIV affected, through the grant provided by the Global Fund.
Dr Krishna Kumar Rai, director of NCASC, said he has invited representatives of the disgruntled organizations working on HIV/AIDS sector for talks. While attempting to justify the selection of the conference venue, he said the third national AIDS conference was also organized at a five star hotel and this time too they have chosen a five-star hotel because high-level dignitaries are participating. "President Rambaran Yadav has been invited for inauguration so expenses will rise due to security reasons also," he said.
The NCASC said that the conference will be important toward meeting the targets of the Millennium Development Goals.