India., Dec. 6 - A national Health Conference in Delhi has heard that HIV/AIDS will be the key health issue in Asia in the coming century.
The conference was organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), which has around 5,000 members, in partnership with World Vision India.
The event held national significance for India, as its aim was to make a perceivable impact on improved access to health across the country and in the quality of health services. In attendance were 92 representatives from the central and state governments, private sector and industry, public health, academia, NGOs and funding agencies.
Speaking at the inaugural session on the theme “Emerging Issues in Health: Globalisation and Sustainable Development” Lynn Arnold, Regional Vice President, World Vision International, identified HIV/AIDS as the crucial emerging issue in health.
"In purely economic terms HIV-AIDS will kill company employees, leave mothers and children destitute and without wage earning husbands and fathers, drain state health budgets, waste years of education and kill off millions of potential customers,” he said.
Dr. JVR Prasada Rao, Health Secretary, Ministry of Health, Health, reiterated the economic disaster that the unchecked spread of HIV/AIDS can cause. “The economic impact of HIV/AIDS is undeniable. Increased costs due to absenteeism, funeral attendance, loss of skilled workers, recruitment and retraining of new workers, and health care for those infected, will take a substantial toll on businesses,” he said.
Dr. Milton Amayun, Senior HIV/AIDS Representative, World Vision International, stunned the conference with the latest statistics on the impact of HIV/AIDS on Asia, and the challenges this presents to the region. “Not only do we need innovative strategies for prevention, we must also challenge the stigma and discrimination against those affected by HIV/AIDS, by demonstrating our care and support for them,” he said.
Eminent speakers, national and international, from the government and industry, clinicians, NGO leaders and academics, made highly professional presentations on other topics covering HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, tuberculosis, essential medicines, poliomyelitis, leprosy, vaccinations, and reproductive health. They sought to tackle health issues at the level of sustainability, and maximize the gains of available interventions to address these health problems.
World Vision and CII plan to set up a Joint Council to facilitate the implementation of objectives of the Partnership and make this Health Conference a bigger and annual event.