New Delhi: With more than 5.7 million HIV infections in the country and no vaccine in sight yet, it is information and awareness that were priority areas for the government’s Nataional AIDS Control Programme I and II (NACP) but now with NACP III being finally ready for launch, after hiccups which have delayed it by almost a year, it is care and treatment that are uppermost in the minds of the government,NGOs, CBOs, healthcare providers and members of the corporate sector who have joined hands to fight the pandemic.
“Project: Access to Care and Treatment (ACT)” has been initiated by CII along with four other NGO partners through a consortium approach. The consortium comprises Population Foundation of India, Engender Health, Freedom Foundation, Indian Network of Positive People and CII.
An outcome of this initiative has been the setting up of four ART centres, sponsored by ACC Cements, ACC Cements – CMC Partnership, Thapar Group and Godrej Group. Speaking on the occasion, Gautam Thapar, Chairman and Managing Director, Ballarpur Industries said “To combat AIDS which has penetrated our lives, forcing us to acknowledge its presence, corporate India has responded by having a Workplace policy which includes a plethora of services which corporates have signed up for, Smart Cards which facilitate treatment and counselling and now with rising infections,access to treatment and care.
Arvind Pathak, Business Head, South West, ACC, said “ACC has launched a first of its kind, state-of-art, stand alone ART Centre at Wadi. The decision to build this outside the ACC Township was to enable a larger percentage of population to have access to antiretroviral treatment”.
ACC has also signed an MoU with the Christian Medical College, Vellore to cooperate with them in this area. CMC has trained the staff at the Wadi ARV Centre of ACC, informed Dr. Dilip Mathai, Professor and Head, Department of Internal Medicine, CMC.
Dr. Rewari, ART consultant, National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) presented copies of the recently released guidelines for ART Centres developed by NACO. These guidelines clearly define the manpower requirements for ART Centres, the training required, training curriculum and details of the monitoring schedule.
Given the way the epidemic is spreading into the general population and the kind of stigma and discrimination that is still associated with it, there is need for a consolidated approach that can address these issues effectively. India Inc joining hands with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is a welcome move.