Prime Minister Khaleda Zia called for formation of a broad-based compact between the governments and civil society stakeholders to combat the massive challenge of HIV/AIDS in South Asian countries, Reports BSS.
"HIV/AIDS poses major health and economic challenge for contemporary South Asia," she said while inaugurating the Third SAARC Health Ministers' Meeting at Sonargaon Hotel in the city Wednesday.
The Prime Minister also formally launched the SAARC Regional Strategy on HIV/AIDS at the function.
"I hope the strategy will complement actions that all our countries are taking at the national level to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS," said Khaleda, who is also Chairperson of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Health and Family Welfare Minister of the host country Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, chair of the last health ministers' meeting Pakistan Health Minister Mohammad Nasir Khan, Indian State Minister for Health Pranabaka Lakshmi and SAARC Secretary General Chenkyab Dorji also addressed the inaugural ceremony of the day-long conference.
UNAIDS Representative Mohammad Ali Bhuiyan presented a statement on the SAARC Regional Strategy on HIV/AIDS, developed by the SAARC countries in partnership with the UNAIDS. The inaugural ceremony was followed by two working sessions.
Ministers, MPs, diplomats, members of international organisations and civil society and senior government officials were present at the inaugural function.
The Prime Minister stressed the need for adequate preparations to prevent and control health emergencies like the recent outbreak of bird flu.
"In most recent times, bird flu has affected some parts of South Asia. These emergencies affect lives and livelihoods of many of our ordinary people," she said.
She highlighted some other areas of concern saying South Asia is often faced with major health emergencies such as avian influenza and dengue.
Suggesting cooperation in pharmaceutical production, Khaleda expressed the hope that the health ministers would consider it seriously as to how best SAARC nations can benefit from each other's capabilities in the "area of great promise."
The PM looked forward to a very productive deliberation in the meeting and hoped that the meeting would richly contribute to enhancing cooperation within the region in the area of health.
"The fundamental rationale for cooperation at the level of SAARC is that the common people of the region will stand to benefit from fruits of such cooperation. We wish SAARC to a people's organisation," she said and added the efforts in the broad areas of health are of utmost significance in this regard.