IMPHAL, May 17: A five member delegation, representing 90 civil society organizations, met with the senior officials of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) yesterday at its New Delhi office to convey the need for a more participatory and inclusive process to ensure a meaningful design for National AIDS Control Programme-VI.
According to an official source, the delegation handed over the resolution passed by the civil societies during a national consultation, held in the national capital on May 12 this month, which called upon the government to make the process of designing NACP VI more transparent and collaborative and recommended greater consultation with community groups whose rights need to be safeguarded.
The source further mentioned that, looking back at the experience of NACP III, Dr S. Sundaraman, an expert associated with the epidemic since 1986, believed that strength of the process lay in being collaborative and adopting a similar approach in designing NACP VI.
Strategies were drafted, plans were made, money was pledged and all the development partners walked the talk and, most importantly people were at the helm of the National Program, the source stated.
In the meantime, Dr. Sayam Chatterjee, director general of NACO, assured the delegation during the recent meeting that partnership with civil society organizations is the bedrock of any effort to address the problem of the HIV epidemic. He felt that any disconnect that may have happened between government and civil society organizations earlier has more to do with perception than the actual reality. He was open to any new ways of designing the NACP IV programme, including widespread consultations with community groups and a rigorious review of NACP III programme to understand the gap and challenges that have emerged. Welcoming the response of the director General, Luke Samson, Sharan assured him that civil society organization will closely partner with NACO in organizing and facilitating the consultation with community groups across the country, the source added.
It is also mentioned that, Luke Samson, Sharan in this connection stated that the community group representing IDU are willing to make the most of this opportunity to ensure that community-centered solutions and process are adopted and implemented to tackle one of the most challenging issues faced by the epidemic.
On the other hand, speaking on behalf of people living with HIV, Loon Gangte, representing the Delhi Network of Positive People, emphasized that, with NACO supporting the process of regional consultation they can ensure that community groups determine the priorities of NACP IV. The delegation emphasized that if the epidemic had to be reduced then two major concerns have to be addressed. Firstly, the many human rights concerns of communities at greatest risk have to be recorgnised, stated Dr. Smarjit Jana, Durbar Mahila Samanway Committee, Kolkata. Without a human rights framework addressing the social marginalization of sex workers, men having sex with men, transgender and injecting drug users, none of these population groups can be reached out to with prevention messages and services, he added.
It may be mentioned that the National Consultation which was held on May 12 at Constitution Club was an action plan for NACO based on the submission of memorandum jointly submitted by the civil society and community based organizations such as Freedom Foundation, Lawyers Collective, India HIV/AIDS Alliance, MAMTA, Naz Foundation (India) Trust, INP+, DNP+, NMP+, Samraksha, WINS, CFAR, Humsafar Trust, Parxis and Sharan to the National Control Society on April 12 last month and sought their participation their inclusion and participation in designing and shaping NACP-IV, the source added.