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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fund crunch forces NGOs to quit HIV prevention project

An acute fund crunch has led to some NGOs walking out of the HIV prevention programme and the ones that continue to provide interventions are struggling to make ends meet. “We have not paid salaries to as many as 63 peer educators who reach out to the high risk group of sex workers and others creating awareness about HIV and giving condoms since April,” says Seema Waghmode, in-charge of the Targetted Intervention (TI) project at Kayakalp.

Kayakalp is among one of the 17 NGOs in Pune district authorised by the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) to provide targetted interventions. In Pune city, Kayakalp provides interventions to more than 1,000 female sex workers at Budhwar Peth. “We have two projects and the supply of at least 3 lakh condoms has dried up since long,” Waghmode added.

The Samapathik Trust, coordinated by Bindumadhav Khire, which provided interventions to men having sex with men and other high risk groups has shut shop due to lack of funds. 

Kalyani Patil, Pune district programme officer of MSACS admitted that there has been a severe fund crunch and huge delay in sending instalments to NGOs conducting TI projects. Out of 17 NGOs, at least four have quit the project, while others are barely managing by taking bank loans to pay the salaries of their shoe-string staff. 

Condom, ART drug shortage 

As against more than two lakh condoms required every month for TI projects and Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTCs) in Pune, the supply has been inadequate for the last few months. At some Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) centres like in Ahmednagar, NGOs like Snehalaya have to spend Rs 3,000 every day in procuring Nevirapine drug for 20 HIV positive children since the last six days. Kalyani Patil too admitted that there is a shortage but authorities try to procure the drugs from other states. Instead of a month’s supply, the patient is then given free drugs only to last for 10 days. 

When contacted , National Health Mission Director for Maharashtra, IA Kundan, who has been given additional charge of MSACS project director, assured that the crisis would be met soon as the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has released an instalment of Rs 20 crore. “They have also assured supply of condoms by October-end,” Kundan said.

Meanwhile, Patil said that the Pune Municipal Corporation’s AIDS control society has helped provide condoms to tide over the current crisis. 

Now lab technicians, counsellors agitate 

Adding to the impasse is also a non-cooperation agitation across the state from October 1 by over 2,000 laboratory technicians and counsellors working at ICTCs and ART centres. In Pune, Sandeep Kulte, president of the district unit of Maharashtra state AIDS control employees association, said that there are 42 ICTCs in Pune and six ART and 12 link ART centres. “For the last two years, we have not received arrears and now while services are being provided to the patients, we have stopped sending data and information about them to the government,” Kulte said. 

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