Stay off drugs, be healthy & happy, says Mark Waugh

On Tuesday, Former Australian opening batsman Mark Waugh visited Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust, a Mumbai-based NGO that works to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst the injecting drug using community. Mark spent some valuable time by listening to the stories of the drug addicts, whose lives are back on track after quitting drugs and also motivated them by urging them to lead a healthy and a drugs-free life. He appealed the Indian cricketers to do their bit by supporting these causes

Former Australian cricketer Mark Waugh visited Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust and encouraged the drug addicts to stay healthy and stay off drugs. “Like in India, in Australia, we support a lot of underprivileged people. It would be great if Indian cricketers come forward to support these charities. It’s great to see everybody doing great here and recovering and I hope for their positive future, taking drugs is not a good lifestyle, so try to be healthy and fit. Be happy and stay of drugs.”

Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust is presently the only NGO working with injecting drug user community in Mumbai. Using a harm reduction approach since 1995, they provide services such as needle syringe exchange, abscess management, basic medical care, and counselling and opioid substitution therapy to their clients many of whom are also infected with Hepatitis C.

“I am glad that I visited the organisation that works with this difficult group of people so dedicatedly although often it is thankless and not seen as a worthy cause. Many of this group are also infected with Hepatitis C virus for which the cost of the treatment is exorbitant. I am sure Maharashtra will also take a cue from States like Haryana and Punjab who are making treatment available for free,” said Mark.”

Eldred Tellis, Executive Director of Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust said, never, never, give up, is our motto. “It sometimes feels like we are swimming against the tide. It is therefore vital that all government organizations and UN Agencies involved come together to achieve this target.”

 Presently, Mumbai is one of the 14 cities worldwide which have signed on the targets of achieving 90-90-90 by 2020. Former Mayor Snehal Ambekar, pledged her support to accelerating the response to HIV in the city over the next five years, by signing the Paris Declaration on Fast-Track Cities. She made the commitment during a global meeting in Mumbai on “Fast-Track Cities- ending the AIDS Epidemic Cities: Achieving 90-90-90 Targets by 2020.

According to Tellis, “The term 90-90-90 refers to a target set by UNAIDS program which is: By 2020, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained anti-retroviral therapy and 90 per cent of all people receiving anti-retroviral therapy will have viral suppression.”

The event concluded with a prayer to stop drug addiction.