ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulation, and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan on Sunday said that Pakistan would continue to make vigorous efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and has already made significant progress in this regard. In a video statement during the 2021 high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS at New York, he said that the COVID-19 pandemic posed a significant challenge to these efforts and the government was cognizant of the fact that any delay in the provision of testing and treatment services would leave many vulnerable populations at a greater risk. He said that the government undertook rapid steps to modify our strategy, including staffing and smart outreach, provision of PPE for all field staff, and multi-month dispensing of ARV treatments. “As result, we were able to ensure uninterrupted supply of services during these unprecedented times, and we aim to continue to adhere to these revised protocols in close coordination with all partners, communities and relevant stakeholders.” He said that in line with SDG 3, Pakistan has also initiated a program of Universal Health coverage for the entire population, which includes HIV/AIDS as part of the Community and Primary Health Care level interventions. He added interventions covered under this package comprises of HIV/AIDS testing, counseling, and referral for antiretroviral treatment, provision of prophylactics and syringes to high-risk groups as well as health education. “We believe Universal Health Coverage is crucial for ensuring the right to health for everyone without any discrimination.” He said, “The High-Level Meeting provides us the opportunity to renew our unswerving resolve to combat HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030 in line with Sustainable Development Goal number 3, ‘Health and well-being for all’.” He said that in order to achieve tangible outcomes, it is crucial that the international community take stock of progress made on the commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030, assess the set-backs faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic in this struggle, learn from each other’s experiences regarding the adaptation of strategies and best practices in light of the pandemic and reiterate our political commitment to the eradication of HIV/AIDS from the world. He said that Goal number 3 of the SDGs, “Health and well-being for all” and its sub-goals 3.3, relating to fighting communicable diseases, and 3.8, relating to achieving universal health coverage, respectively remain a high priority in our national agenda. He said that the detrimental impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on economies, societies and the entire population of the world has reminded the international community to rise above narrow expediencies to prevent and combat HIV/AIDS epidemic in all parts of the world without any discrimination and bias. He said that HIV/AIDS is a cross-cutting developmental challenge and millions of people of the world cannot continue to be denied their right to development. Pakistan welcomes the renewed emphasis to combat HIV/AIDS in the 2021 Political Declaration, he added. He said that there is an imperative need to accelerate efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030, through HIV/AIDS prevention, care, support and treatment, provision of sexual and reproductive health services, community engagement, awareness-raising, and addressing stigma and discrimination. He said that the international community needs a global compact on health, where no one is denied their right to health and everyone has Universal Health Coverage. Ending HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030 should be one of the priority areas of this global compact which would translate our commitments into tangible actions and outcomes, he added.