HIV +ve kids left without care, support as AIDS Body funds dry up

NAGPUR: Several city children, whose lives were marred by a black mark called AIDS, used to get love, care and support from some loving ‘sisters’. The love and care continues to come their way, but the support has been withdrawn as these volunteers can no longer afford to provide it.

Since the last five months, the National AIDS Control Organisation has not been providing funds to many social outfits that provide counseling along with medical and other facilities to HIV positive people. This has forced a few of them to shut their operations completely. City-based NGO Nagpur Multipurpose Social Service Society, along with the two community care centers (CCCs), that catered to People Living with HIV (PLHs) and their children, have closed their operations.

“We have around 1380 children registered with us, some of them are themselves affected by HIV and some have parents suffering from AIDS. We tried to provide them emotional, educational and every kind of support. During the last five years of association with them, only 13 children died. The life span of the suffering kids has increased under our guidance as they got the required medication and nutrition,” informed Sr. Daya Matthews, SMMI, the project director of project Chah.

NACO had conducted inspection of all the organizations that were receiving funds from them in February this year wherein all centres had got a favourable report. In fact, the centre at Mure Memorial Hospital had been upgraded from ‘C’ to ‘A’ category. Despite this, the funds were discontinued from the next financial year beginning in April.

After a couple of months, the representatives from CCCs from across the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka were running from pillar to post, trying to gather why this had happened. “We have been trying to contact the authorities from NACO, who have remained non-communicative. We even visited their Delhi office but in vain,” revealed Datta Patil, executive director of Youth for Unity & Voluntary Action (YUVA) that runs one such centre in Beed.

However, Dr Bhalchandra Kinikar of Niramaya Arogya Dham, Solapur, said that they have received some reassurance from Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT), the organization that distributes the funds to the NGOs in the two states, that the files have moved up and the money may come in soon.

Under this project, many of the children who had left their education midway were reinducted, while many others were provided with employment opportunities. They were also informed about the various government schemes they could benefit from. The organization, however, has had to discontinue all its activities due to lack of funds. “We could not keep our staff, many of whom were PLHs, as there were no means of sustaining them,” said Sr Daya.

The condition of the CCCs is no different. Amrita Joshi, who runs the centre at Rameshwari recounts the measures she had to resort to for cost cutting. “We had to do away with some of our staff. We now have no janitor, cook or nurse. The guidelines given by NACO regarding the number of people we can employ is already insufficient. If more people are required the NGO itself has to arrange for their salaries,” she said.

The Mure Memorial Hospital CCC which used to get a footfall of over a hundred patients every month, now, only sees a few people coming in. “We too had to relieve one of our nurses. The actual need is of three nurses but we have two, with one being provided by the hospital whenever there is a need. Even now, the nurse on night duty is not our employee but that of the hospital,” said Ashish Sontakke, the accountant of the centre.

“We have to refer some of our regular patients to the government hospitals because we can no longer provide them the medicines. Even the number of walk-ins we had have gone down,” said one of the outreach workers Dhanresha Fulmali.

Source : Times of India

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