New Delhi: There is a lot more awareness about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS today than when it was first detected 33 years ago, in 1988. Every year on December 1, communities around the world come together to pledge to fight the deadly infection and remember those who have died as part of World AIDS Day. Each year, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has a theme to raise awareness about the disease, to work and to ensure that communities are empowered to engage in HIV programmes and promote the full inclusion of civil society.
This year, UNAIDS focuses on a specific theme, “Equalize,” that emphasises on eliminating the inequalities that have slowed down the fight against the disease and raising awareness, especially among the younger audience.
Ravi Bhatnagar, Director, External Affairs & Partnerships, SOA, Reckitt, spoke to the NDTV-Banega Swasth India team about the importance of spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS among the youth of the country.
Mr. Bhatnagar said that it was important to invest in raising awareness about the disease in a country like India, which has one of the largest youth populations in the world. He emphasised the need for engaging youth in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. He further said,
It’s crucial to invest now, so that we have the social return in the future, in terms of a decline in the number of infections, lower STI prevalence rates, and much more. “Because India is a mixed bag of media pro-active and media dark areas, we need a behaviour change programme that is also culturally adaptive.
Mr. Bhatnagar said that youth were the focal point of raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.
It is essential to drive the change with the youth, for the youth, and for the youth, and to achieve this, I urge all the concerned global and national agencies to come together, he added.
Reckitt along with hygiene company Durex had launched the ‘Birds and Bees Talk’ programme. Implemented by PLAN India, the initiative targets around four million youth and adolescents across six North Eastern states – Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.
Speaking about the programme, Mr. Bhatnagar said it was youth centric but involves parents and teachers in raising awareness and imparting sex education. The campaign comprehensively addresses growing up and life skills for youth between 10-19 years old.
We are not alone in the success of the campaign; the government and other concerned agencies have also played a huge part, Mr Bhatnagar said.
The programme equips adolescents with essential knowledge, attitudes and values that will help them grow into responsible and healthy adults. Through a two-level interactive, animated curriculum, the ‘Birds and Bees Talk’ ’ programme promotes the core principles of inclusion, awareness, consent, protection, and equity. Besides, it promotes healthy behaviours by sharing information easily and creatively to empower the youth to make informed decisions.
The programme embarks the third year since the year of its launch in the northeast region. This year, Nagaland is hosting its 23rd edition of the Hornbill festival with ‘Birds and Bees Talk’ programme being the health partner.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.