New Delhi: The Planning Commission`s proposal to merge the two-decade-old AIDS control department with the flagship National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has caused a stir in the health ministry, with some officials even saying it could reverse the gains made by India in bringing down HIV infections.Concerns have been raised over the efficacy and outreach of the National AIDS Control Organisation`s (NACO) HIV-AIDS related facilities if delivered through NRHM.India has a population of over 2.5 million HIV positive people, the third largest globally. Over the last decade, the new HIV infections annually have come down by 50 percent."The Planning Commission`s proposal on NRHM convergence is still under consideration. We need to first take stock of the preparations for this massive integration where there are multiple issues involved, with the fear of going wrong on sensitive AIDS control programmes," a senior health ministry official told IANS on condition of anonymity.NACO, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, was set up to combat AIDS - allocating funds to voluntary organisations and state AIDS control societies (SACS), structure policies for targeted interventions, disease-surveillance and implementation of programmes.Post-merger, select NACO services would be available through the public health infrastructure of NRHM. The seven-year-old NRHM was launched to provide accessible healthcare in rural and remote areas of the country.The centrally-sponsored NRHM works through a countrywide string of health workers, accredited social health activists (ASHAs) and Auxiliary Midwife and Nurse (ANM).
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