By Shyam Waikhom
IMPHAL, March 9: Claiming the current Manipur State AIDS policy as an outdated one unable to give access the basic benefits to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA), several NGOs dealing with HIV/AIDS has expressed the urgent need to implement the revised AIDS policy 2010.
In this regard IFP interacted with Rajkumar Nolinikanta, president Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE), who revealed that several NGOs have drawn the attention of State Health official regarding the free provision for medical investigation of ART initiation with routine investigation to PLHA.
Several rounds of meeting were held on the guideline of NACO besides submitting memorandum to the state authority on this matter. However there is no responds from government and has been neglecting the issue, he recalled.
The president of CONE further disclosed that recently, CoNE submitted reminder to Suhel Aktar, Principal Secretary Health and Director Health Dr A Bijoy on January 30, 2014 and to the MACS on February 27, 2014.
Still there have been huge gaps in accessing ART though it is available in free of cost. One of the main factors is that most of the PLHA fals under BPL and hard to afford all the medical investigation require to access the ART, he said.
He expressed his optimism that implementing the revised AIDS policy drafted in 2010 which have many new provisions, many necessity needs of the PLHA can be fulfilled and a healthy life of the PLHA can be assured.
The same policy was endorsed to the people by the then Governor of Manipur in world AIDS day 2010, he further recalled.
RK Nolikanta further pointed out that the directive of the Supreme Court for providing comprehensive care (clean and hygienic, clean drinking water, adequate seating arrangement and clean toilets) for PLHA at ART centres is not being maintained.
Given the fact the PLHA are still facing acute challenges in accessing basic health care, supportive among the HIV positive community.
Adding to the woes is the increasing poverty level among the PLHA coupled with price hike of essential commodities, he added.
He further urged government to implement the minute of Inter-departmental “mainstream HIV/AIDS” on October 18, 2013 held at the GAD conference hall chaired by PC Lawmkunga.
During the meeting MACS has display a presentation on “overview of global and local HIV scenario” emphasis upon the need for mainstream and involving multi-sectoral approach.
The various officials of separate departments has discussed on financial budgetary allocation for implementing HIV/AIDS action plan. Identification of entry point HIV intervention in Department’s works Rights-base workplace policy; training and sensitisation of internal staff.
It was further discussed on work place intervention for care, support and other opportunities to people living with HIV /AIDS and availing of social protection scheme and other opportunities.
The points were unanimously agreed upon the needs for mainstreaming HIV/AIDS and reiterated their willingness to take necessary action as is being reflected in discussion.
The Department shall be allocated budget for conducting awareness and training programme for its own skill on HIV/AIDS prevention and care. AIDS topic shall be included in all training program taken up by the department MACS will provide technical support for awareness and training programme.
HIV/ADIS related activities shall be reflected in the Annual Action Plan. The Policy shall be developed for zero tolerance to harassment of right risk group and people living with HIV (PLHIV). All departments shall revise the guideline in the scheme to accommodate the request will be accepted actions and office Order will be issued for the same.
Nodal Officers identified shall represent their concerned department in the “inter-department coordination forum of HIV/AIDS” regular meeting will be held for this forum on October 31, 2013.
In the inter-departmental minute meeting Health and Family Welfare, Tourism, DIPR, Home, CAF& PD, Commerce and Industries, Minority and other backward classes and Schedule Caste, Labour and Employment, Social Welfare, Art and Culture, Transport, Youth Affairs and Sports, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Education.
In the provision there some point that very helpful to PLHIV, including Medical investigation facility at free of cost to all the PLHA for ART initiation. Jail authority shall allow HIV testing of inmate on voluntary basis. As these is confidentiality issue involve with PLHIV, AAY will be provide to the persons who volunteer to avail such facility. There will be 3 to 5 percent shall be reserved for PLHIV.
Beneficiaries as 90 percent share for the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) is borne by central government. Under SABLA (Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls), HIV infected girl within 11 to 18 years shall be provided double nutrition.
A Free transportation for visiting ART centre on JnNURM buses to PLHIV. All PLHIV adult shall be given MGNREGS job card as per Supreme Court’s directive. If un-availability of soft work in MGNREGS they shall entitled to daily unemployment allowance.
The MoU signed between Department of AIDS Control and Minister of Higher Education will be implemented.
After the discussion the Chief Secretary has advised to provide Certificate or Identification Card to all the PLHIVs and should be treated with special consideration.