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New Delhi, May 22 (UNI) The government has accorded high priority to HIV/AIDS control with the formation of National Council on AIDS under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister in order to halt the epidemic in the country by 2011.

Releasing the 'Report to the People' on the performace of the UPA government during the last three years (2004-07), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said National Council on AIDS, which gave direction to the National AIDS Control Programme Phase III, helped mainstreaming HIV/AIDS concerns in programmes and schemes of relevant ministries in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halting the AIDS epidemic by 2011 rather than the global target of 2015.

This had been done through scaling up access to preventive services, counselling and testing facilities in the general population for behaviour change towards a more responsible lifestyle.

About the efforts to stabilise population growth, it was stated that use of term 'population control' had been dropped. The emphasis was on voluntary acceptance through awareness creation and better access rather than on a target-oriented approach through directives from the State.

With the launch of the National Rural Health Mission, a series of initiatives had also been set in motion to effectively improve access to quality health care of people, especially those residing in rural areas, the poor, women and children.

It was also stated that the Indian Medicine and Homeopathy Pharmacy Bill 2005 had been introduced in Parliament to establish the Central Pharmacy Council for Indian Medicine and Homeopathy to regulate and standardise pharmacy education.

In order to address domestic as well as global concerns relating to presence of heavy metals in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani formulations, mandatory testing of heavy metals for the presence of arsenic, lead, mercury and cadmium in all purely herbal Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani drugs for export purposes had been introduced.

Among the other achievements enumerated in the report card in the field of healthcare were Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, making available affordable and safe medicines, setting up Public Health Foundation of India and universalising Intergated Child Development Schemes.


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