`HIV/ AIDS grassroot feedback to reach PCI`

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IMPHAL, October 1: Various representatives of the vulnerable population living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) & people who use drugs (PUD) of the state, today drafted their recommendations and suggestions which will be submitted to the Planning Commission (of India) for the upcoming 12th five year plan which will come into effect from 2012- 2017.

More than 20 representatives of PLWHA & PUD communities of the state held a consultative meeting at hotel Classic organized by the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR).

The meeting was aimed to ensure that the vulnerable communities are able to give their inputs and suggestions to improve the provision of HIV prevention, intervention & care related services in the state.

While interacting with IFP, one Aheibam Sunil, a representative of the Manipur Drug Users’ Forum (MDUF) has said that the recommendation can help address various issues encountered by their community members if the planning commission turns it to actions. He also expressed his gratitude to planning commission for providing a space for their feedback and CFAR for supporting such important meeting for vulnerable population of the state.

The meeting was also attended by representatives from Manipur Drug Users Forum (MDUF), Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE), Manipur Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (MNP+), Care Foundation, SASO, and Humanitarian Empowerment (HOPE).

Speaking on the concerns of women living with HIV and AIDS and widows, Rinarshi from MNP+ said, “Existing government schemes have not been designed with specific needs for PLHAs and hence are difficult to access. Community specific schemes have to be designed so that services reach those who genuinely deserve it”.

Kanta, convenor of CoNE, said, “We are encouraged that our views are being sought by the Planning Commission and we hope that this inclusion will lead to the concerns of People Using Drugs being reflected through resources for marginalized communities in the 12th Plan”.

Voicing concerns of drug users in Manipur, a representative from a community based organization has also said that the next five year plan should take into consideration specific health concerns like affordable treatment of Hepatitis-C infection.

“Though many drug users are Hep-C infected, very few are able to get treatment as the cost is prohibitively high. We have raised this issue but it remains unaddressed and I hope the planning commission will consider this”.

The Approach Paper has included people living with HIV/AIDS and people using drugs as disadvantaged people requiring special support. Appreciating and welcoming this inclusion as special groups, the participants called on the Planning Commission to ensure this process is taken forward.

“We are hopeful that this will lead to allocations for vulnerable communities and there is greater accountability sought from the government agencies in ensuring access”, said Thoibi, Network of Positive People, Manipur. 

The participants also called for greater allocations for health budgets in the North-eastern states and an emphasis on region specific strategies for capacity building, outreach and service delivery in remote and rural areas.

“There is a need to review the health budgets and ensure that the benefits reach us. Mobile medical vans are either defunct or not utilized. Outreach and service delivery in remote and hill areas are still very poor. Service delivery in places like Churachandpur, Ukhrul and Tamenglong can only be strengthened through locally specific outreach strategies”, said Joseph, vice president, HOPE.

In 2010-11, the Planning Commission extensively consulted with over 950 civil society organizations using formal consultations and electronic and social media. Five regional consultations were held to ascertain the feedback from state governments, local representative institutions and unions.

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