New Delhi, June 14 : Internationally acclaimed actress and eminent social activist Shabana Azmi has been appointed as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) goodwill ambassador for HIV/AIDS Programme for SAARC countries in the region.
SAARC member nations (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and India) who met in Kathmandu in the month of April this year, selected Azmi and the legendary cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya as SAARC goodwill ambassadors for HIV/AIDS from a large number of nominations which had been received from the member countries.
Azmi's name was recommended by 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 2-3, 2008.
The National AIDS Control Organisation, and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have congratulated Azmi for being selected as the SAARC goodwill ambassador and for agreeing to contribute in the HIV/AIDS prevention programme.
As the SAARC goodwill ambassador, Azmi will contribute towards meeting the overall objective of the SAARC regional strategy through, facilitating implementation of SAARC regional strategy on HIV/AIDS and its work plan in all countries; addressing the issue of stigma and discrimination and to create greater awareness through mass media and public appearance in the region; mainstreaming HIV/AIDS to form part of 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 being reached to the furthest corner of the region.
As an eminent social activist and a renowned film actor, Azmi will contribute significantly towards strengthening the 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 found as most suitable for the title. Upon conferment of the title, SAARC secretariat will 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.