"> Discussants at a roundtable on “Prevention of HIV in Bangladesh-Need for a Policy and Strategy for Integration of Reproductive Health and HIV services” jointly organised by The Daily Star and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at The Daily Star Centre in the capital yesterday. Photo: Star
Unmarried adolescents making up nearly one-fourth of Bangladesh's population have no access to formal healthcare services on preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV, said a high official of Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP) yesterday.
Addressing a discussion, Dr Ishrat Jahan, programme manager of Adolescent and Reproductive Health at DGFP, said the adolescents, aged 10 to 19 years, have no legal option to deal with unwanted pregnancies either.
Fighting HIV infection in a comprehensive manner remains an unanswered challenge prompting a large section of the sexually active population to resort to informal and dangerous medical courses to cope with the situation, she said.
Condoms must be promoted as an easy and effective measure with the dual purpose of birth control and STD prevention, she added.
The Daily Star jointly with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) organised the discussion on integrated prevention of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and on reproductive health at The Daily Star Centre in the capital.
Combining HIV infection prevention with family planning and regular healthcare services is a must to keep a low prevalence of AIDS in the country, said Dr Khandker Ezazul Haque, a technical officer of UNFPA.
HIV screening must be a part of family planning, maternity and child healthcare services to encourage easy screening of the deadly virus, said Dr Halida H Khandker, executive director of Confidential Approach to AIDS Prevention.
HIV service integration with regular healthcare must keep in mind the around 70 million youths constituting 60 percent of Bangladesh's population, said Kazi Ali Reza, officer-in-charge of United Nations Information Centre.
Bangladesh's HIV/AIDS policy, approved in 1997, deserves amendment to address its link with reproductive health, said ABM Kamal Ahsan, programme coordinator of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Dr Md Abdul Waheed, line director of National AIDS/STD Programme, said the health services and family planning directorates and national AIDS programme work in an uncoordinated way.
They are trying for an integration through a midterm review of the AIDS programme by 2014, added Waheed.
The discussion also recommended coordinating focal points at 16 ministries for the HIV programme, making migrants aware of HIV transmission, stopping child marriage, empowering women financially and socially and training health workers on educating the rural mass on HIV/AIDS.
Leo Kenny, country coordinator of UNAIDS Bangladesh, also spoke among others.