Mauritius: UNAIDS Chief lauds Mauritian achievement in the struggle against HIV/Aids

Port-Louis, Mauritius (PANA) -  The UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe, said Mauritius is among the first African countries with almost 80% of funds allocated to HIV/Aids coming from local sources.

Speaking to the media here Monday after a four-day visit to the island-nation, Sidibe said that this is an important achievement when most African countries today are dependent at 80/85% on global funds in their struggle against the disease.

Saying “It is not just taking about aids”, he added that the development is a very important political commitment from Mauritius.

Since his arrival on Thursday, the UNAIDS Executive Director has been talking to NGOs, the civil society, and to prisoners and drug users receiving methadone substitution therapy.

He believed Mauritius’ vision is built around a people-centered approach that will really enable anybody have access to services.

“Mauritius doesn’t want to have anyone left behind," he noted, saying the island has good policies that make sure people obtain services.

“I visited the prison, people living with HIV, the methadone centre outside the prison and the needle exchange programme. I can say that Mauritius is the first country to have been able to put a methadone distribution service in the prison settings and to equip the prisoner with skilled knowledge so as to facilitate his reinsertion."

Sidibe said he was impressed by the methadone and rehabilitation services offered to the patients and how they were being helped to have access to food so that they don’t take methadone on empty stomach.

He said Mauritius has also been clearly reducing the number of new infections very considerably among the injected drug-users during the last five to six years.

Sidibe believed Mauritius should improve in the area of treatment as only about 20 per cent of people that need treatment are treated.

Earlier at a working session with the UN delegation, Mauritian Health Minister Lormus Bundhoo indicated that the number of HIV cases registered increased each year from 2002 to reach a peak of 921 in 2005.

He said from 2011, the number of new cases of HIV detected has shown a downward trend with 401 in that year, 320 in 2012 and 260 in 2013.

The number of tests being carried out yearly has also been increasing, he observed.

“Mauritius has been able to halt and reverse the HIV trend as required under the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) well before 2015," he said.

Bundhoo believed the challenge is the high prevalence of co-infection with Hepatitis C among Injecting Drug Users.

“Of all the registered cases, 71.1 per cent have been infected through injecting drug. Around 97 per cent of them are co-infected with Hepatitis C," he said, indicating that there was the need for fully qualified specialists in HIV in Mauritius.

The minister said he’ll also consider the removal of travelling restrictions for People Living with HIV and AIDS and look into the implications and advisability of free distribution of condoms in the prisons as a means to reducing the propagation of HIV and AIDS.
-0- PANA NA/VAO 21April2014  

21 april 2014 14:32:56

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