Saturday, May 19, 2007

Teamwork required in HIV/AIDS fight

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Government is working toward greater cooperation with regional administrations in its effort to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS nationwide.

The Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare, Aburizal Bakrie, who is also the head of the National AIDS Commission, said Indonesia needs to make a serious effort to trace the roots of the AIDS epidemic because of the alarming rate in which it infiltrating families.

"This problem requires personal, local and national attention and will not be overcome if we work alone," Aburizal said in a written speech delivered by the Secretary of the National AIDS Commission, Nafsiah Mboi, during a national coordination meeting of the commission at the Bumi Karsa hotel in Jakarta on Tuesday.

On January 19 this year Aburizal's office issued a ministerial regulation on national policy on AIDS prevention in order to address the growing problem more comprehensively. The National AIDS Commission also issued the National Strategy and Action Plan 2007-2010 on AIDS.

"We have already developed a common strategy and action plan. More or less we know what to do. However, the success of this program will depend on leadership, especially at the provincial, regional and city levels. We need to improve leadership and commitment in tracing the roots of the disease," Nafsiah told reporters after the opening ceremony.

Aburizal said a large amount of money is required to implement the National Action Plan.

"Currently the government is only able to provide 30 percent of what is required and the remaining 70 percent comes from foreign donors that may halt their support at any time. We hope that by 2010, 70 percent of funding will come from the state budget, the budgets of local administrations, the domestic private sector and the public," he said.

"The AIDS epidemic and drug abuse will undermine all of our development achievements if we close our eyes to these problems. However, we can curb the spread of AIDS if the government and the public seriously join together to prevent it."

Aburizal added that AIDS was first detected in Indonesia about 20 years ago but in 2006 the number of newly reported AIDS cases escalated.

In 2006, cases of AIDS were reported in all provinces in the country with the number of reported cases more than 193,000. Jakarta topped the list with 26,805 reported cases, followed by Papua with 21,487 cases, East Java with 15,699 cases and West Java with 14,341 cases. Gorontalo was at the bottom of the list with 462 reported cases.

About 94 percent of those infected with the disease are in the 15-49 age group.

He said the official number of AIDS victims in the country is most likely higher due to the fact that many cases go unreported as a result of a general lack of public knowledge, fear of discrimination and obstacles to reporting the disease.

Aburizal said AIDS prevention programs should focus on preventing the transmission of the disease through sexual encounters as well as continuing to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS through the use of intravenous devices.

Nasfiah said the aim of the meeting was to create a similar perception around the country concerning the threat of AIDS and to improve leadership in the war against the disease.

The meeting was also marked by the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the National AIDS Commission and 14 municipal administrations on preventing HIV/AIDS.

The National AIDS Commission was established on July 13, 2006, under Presidential Regulation No. 75/2006. Its duties include providing directions to the AIDS Commission at the provincial, district and municipal levels within the framework of central government efforts to prevent, control and manage the response to AIDS.

The commission is headed by the Minister of People's Welfare, with the Minister of Health and the Minister of Home Affairs as vice chairpersons and another 12 Ministers and 11 heads of agencies and boards as members. (02)

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