Shabana Azmi appointed 'SAARC Goodwill Ambassador'

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New Delhi, Jun 14 (UNI) Film actress-turned-politician and social activist, Shabana Azmi, has been appointed as the SAARC Goodwill Ambassador for the HIV/AIDS Programme for SAARC countries in the region.

According to an official release issued here today, the SAARC member nations, comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and India, who met in Kathmandu earlier in April, selected Ms Azmi and legendary cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya as SAARC Goodwill Ambassadors for HIV/AIDS prevention programme from a large number of nominations, which had been received from the member countries.

Ms Azmi's name was recommended by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO). The conferment of the title and the launch of the programme for SAARC Goodwill Ambassadors is likely to take place during the 15th SAARC Summit to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on August 2 and 3 this year. NACO and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have congratulated Ms Aazmi on being selected the SAARC Goodwill Ambassador and for agreeing to contribute in the HIV/AIDS prevention programme.

As the SAARC Goodwill Ambassador, Ms Azmi would contribute towards meeting the overall objective of the SAARC regional strategy through facilitating implementation of the SAARC regional Strategy on HIV/AIDS and its work plan in all the countries; addressing the issue of stigma and discrimination and to create a greater awareness through mass media and public appearance in the region; mainstreaming HIV/AIDS to form part of the development agenda and advocate for affordable treatment, care and support for PLHWA (people living with HIV/AIDS); and facilitating fund raising from within and outside the region.

The SAARC Goodwill Ambassador(s) Programme was conceived with the objective of facilitating the SAARC Regional Strategy on HIV/AIDS and its work plan. Engaging regionally well known personalities would not only provide necessary prominence to the issue but also ensure the message reaches the farthest corner of the region. As an eminent social activist and renowned film actor, Ms Azmi would contribute significantly towards strengthening the HIV/AIDS prevention programmes to gain momentum and visibility in the region.

'The SAARC Goodwill Ambassador(s)' is an honorary title conferred upon the candidate whom the selection committee finds the most suitable for the title. Upon conferment of the title, the SAARC Secretariat would provide necessary credentials to the candidate to begin his/her role as the SAARC Goodwill Ambassador(s) on a voluntary basis for a period of two years.

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