Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson UPA and Chairperson Rajiv Gandhi Foundation flagged off the Red Ribbon Express from Safdarjung Railway Station to commemorate the World AIDS Day.
Speaking on the occasion, Smt. Gandhi said: “The Red Ribbon Express Phase -I clearly indicated that we are on the right track because of all the appreciation we got from the people.
The HIV epidemic is a high priority for the UPA government because this disease predominantly affects the poor and the young. What is also commendable is that the RRE has succeeded in bringing together different departments at the national level and diverse stakeholders from elected representatives to self-help groups at district level to meet this challenge.”
Before flagging- off the RRE, Smt. Gandhi visited the various coaches of the train, sought information on several of the display panels and even accessed the help line.
Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare said: “The train is going to give information on how to prevent HIV/AIDS, where to go to avail services and who to count on for counseling and testing. Between 2002 and 2007 we succeeded in drastically reducing the number of people affected by this disease and I believe that with more and more information reaching people we will see a very definite decline in numbers in this country.
Mamta Banerjee, Minister for Railways said “It is, therefore, important to discuss and debate this disease. I believe if people unite and extend full support and cooperation we can fight this disease. The battle is not against the disease per se but the lack of emotional support being given to people affected by HIV/AIDS.
Smt. Sheila Dixit, Chief Minister of Delhi while appreciating the decision to flag off the RRE from Delhi, said: “This year the theme of WAD is “Universal Access and Human Rights” and this train fulfills this message of ensuring universal access in the context of human rights. She added, “I feel that AIDS prevention is of critical importance and I am sure this train will take this message all over the country and teach people how to prevent this disease and to take care of those affected by it through treatment and care.”
Shri Dinesh Trivedi, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare said: “This is a proud moment for all of us as the Red Ribbon Express embarks on a year-long journey with the message: Learn about HIV/AIDS, stay free from infection, do not stigmatize those who have already got the infection and come forward to avail of health services to make India a healthy and vibrant society.”
The Red Ribbon Express project is being implemented by the National AIDS Control Organization in collaboration with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, the National rural Health Mission, the Ministry of Railways, UNICEF and other stakeholders.
The eight coach train will stop at 152 stations covering 22 states in its year long journey. The train has 3 exhibition coaches on HIV/AIDS and one coach on NRHM to disseminate information on TB, Malaria, H1N1 and Reproductive & Child Health services. One coach is dedicated for training of resource persons in the districts through which the train will pass. These will include members of panchayati raj institutions, self help groups, Aanganwadi workers, teachers, youth groups, NGOs etc.. In one coach, services for counseling on HIV and general health check-ups will be provided.
This time services for HIV testing and treatment of common ailments are also being provided at the location where the train will stop. The mobile health clinics will also be linked to the halt points in the districts.
Those who are not able to reach the train will be reached by outreach services through IEC vans and folk troupes in the villages of the districts through which the RRE will pass.
Source: Press Information Bureau, India