The 18th national HIV/AIDS commission (NHAC) meeting held yesterday inaugurated the reconstituted national HIV/AIDS commission, after almost 14 years of its existence.
The commission now has 15 core commission members from the health, education, home and labour ministries, Dratshang Lhentshog, RENEW, Thimphu Thromde, National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), Phuntsholing Thromde, Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), RBA hospital and private and business sector and, LHAKSAM and Bhutan Film Association (BFA).
Coinciding with the 18th NHAC meeting, the Ministry of Health also launched the GeneXpert machines and mobile HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC) Vans.
The GeneXpert machine was procured at the cost of USD 54,000 through Global Fund Support facilitating HIV Viral Load Testing, Early Infant Diagnosis of HIV and Rapid Diagnosis of MDR-TB. The Services will be available is five major health centers (strategically located).
The two mobile HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC) Vans was procured at a cost of Nu 5.16 million also through Global Fund Support. The Vans are equipped with a mini-lab to undertake onsite HIV/STI testing services.
The National HIV/AIDS Commission was formally constituted in 2004 following the resolution of the 220th Session of cabinet meeting held on February 2, 2004 with 18 members and PM as the chairman. In 2006, the membership was reduced to 11 and Chairmanship changed to Health Minister.
Health minister Tandin Wangchuk who is also the chairman of the NHAC said, “Since its inception 17 rounds of meetings were held and the outcome of each meetings were very significant in re-shaping our national strategies towards combating the social menace of HIV/AIDS in our country.” One prominent achievement is the Royal Decree on HIV & AIDS from His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo on May 24, 2004.
With government approval to reconstitute the commission, he said the Secretariat has come-up with the draft ‘Governance Manual’ outlining the functions, roles, responsibilities and membership composition of the commission.
The rationale for the reconstitution was to encourage diverse representation of the members to the commission, which is also aimed at inculcating the sense of Multi-sectorilism to address the issues related to HIV/AIDS in the country.
As recommended during the seventeenth NHAC last year since there were no major reconstitution except the change in few members based on the decision of the Chairperson, the reconstitution is expected to showcase the strong commitment of the government towards addressing the issues of HIV/AIDS.
The core mandates of the National HIV/AIDS Commission is to formulate policies and provide guidance in relation to the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) of public health concern in Bhutan.