Prime Minister Khaleda Zia called for collective and coordinated efforts at local, regional and global levels Thursday to overcome the threat of HIV/AIDS. She termed the menace as a global development crisis, report agencies.
The Prime Minister made the call while inaugurating the Second Sub-regional Parliamentary Seminar on HIV/AIDS in South Asia by the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) at Hotel Sonargaon in the city.
"We must learn from our mistakes and successes, and critically review our past experiences in order to move forward," she told the seminar attended by a total of 112 foreign delegates, including 50 Members of Parliament (MPs) from 13 countries.
Khaleda opined that it is the elected leaders who have the means at their disposal to shape and advance public opinion and action to overcome taboos and prejudice and take forward actions against natural and man-made disasters.
In this connection, she mentioned some important steps taken at regional level to fight HIV/AIDS. She said that the South Asian leaders at the recently concluded 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka welcomed the preparation of a collective SAARC strategy to prevent the spread of the disease in the region.
The South Asian leaders also ratified the SAARC convention on trafficking of women and children which, while protecting women and children, will help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Quoting UN-AIDS that some 8.2 million people were living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2004, she said a number of countries in Asia have shown either nation-wide epidemic or serious and localised epidemic.
The Prime Minister said it is feared that AIDS epicentre is gradually shifting from Africa to Asia and experiences also indicate that HIV/AIDS has no racial, class or religious bias. "No country can claim immune from HIV epidemic."
Bangladesh has so far been fortunate to remain a low-prevalent country with regard to HIV/AIDS, Khaleda said.
"We, however, must be constantly vigilant since there is no scope for complacence. Our religious and cultural values are no doubt a great deterrent against the spread of this disease. But our very geographical location makes us vulnerable," She observed.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh government has been sincere in combating HIV/AIDS from the very beginning and a National AIDS policy is now in place.
Listing a number of steps taken to prevent the deadly disease, she said a strategic plan for 2004-2010 has already been prepared and parliament has passed Safe Blood Transfusion Act in 2002.