IMPHAL, July 27: The double bench of Manipur High Court of Chief Justice LK Mahopatra and Justice N Kotiswar Singh disposed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE) and has directed the Principal secretary (Health & Family Welfare) to provide clinical investigations free of cost to the people living with HIV (PLHIV) at all ART centres in Manipur, stated CoNE president RK Nolinikanta.
He was speaking at a press conference in the office of CoNE today where he described the High Court’s directive as a huge relief for PLHIV in the State.
Many PLHIVs are living below poverty line and face hardships for undergoing the clinical investigations to initiate ART and monitor the treatment’s progress.
As per the treatment guidelines of National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), there are some mandatory medical investigations which need to be done for ART initiation as well as routine investigation to monitor the treatment’s effect on the patients which are absent in the State, Nolinikanta said, adding that clinical investigations which are mandatory for PLHIVs undergoing ART treatment to monitor its progress are still charged in the State unlike many other States in the county where these investigations are provided free of cost.
All these medical investigations cost between Rs 800 to Rs 900 in government hospitals whereas private hospitals charged around Rs 2500 for the same.
This is an alarming trend as no one knows about the conditions of PLHIVs who drop out from ART centres, he said, adding, “Considering the issue, CoNE has taken certain initiatives to avail free investigations to improve the accessibility and quality of ARV treatment in the State.”
Nolinikanta further stated that as of September 2013, the total number of HIV positive people in the State is 43882 whereas the number of PLHIVs registered at all ART centres till the end of August 2012 is 19629. However, the number of PLHIVs who have initiated ART treatment is 11673.
He mentioned that it is also the State’s obligation to avail these medical investigations free of cost.