New Delhi: Private clinics and hospitals will now have to notify the government about HIV/AIDS patients getting treatment at their facilities.
The National Aids Control Organization (NACO) under ministry of health and family welfare has written to all states and Union territories to direct private clinics and hospitals in their respective areas to compile and submit a list of HIV/AIDS cases they are treating. The move has been taken in a bid to get a definite data on HIV/AIDS.
With ministry of health and family welfare’s own admission, the actual burden of disease would be more than known because a considerable number of patients are availing treatment at private hospitals.
“Currently, there is no system to collect information from all the private clinics. Even though in our advertisements we display that HIV/AIDS treatment in government hospitals is free of cost and confidential, many patients go to private hospitals to protect their identity. We can’t force the patients to come to our hospitals. Because there is a taboo associated with HIV/AIDS, and patients feel shy of coming to a government hospital, we miss a considerable data on HIV/AIDS," said Dr Arun K Panda, additional secretary, NACO.
However, there are over 25,000 reporting units which include around 2,500 public private partnership (PPP) model Integrated Counseling and Testing centers and 19 Private organization supported ART centers in the country which provide counselling and testing services and Treatment services respectively in the country. Apart from these, there are 1,684 targeted intervention program implemented through NGOs and community bases organizations.
“We want to get an accurate and authentic data on HIV/AIDS. As health is a state subject, we have asked the state governments to sign Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) with the private hospitals in their area so that we can at least get the actual number of HIV/AIDS patients. The government will also duly validate the data from private clinics and hospitals. Confidentiality of the patients’ details will remain intact but we will have the numbers," said Dr Panda.
In December 2016, a parliamentary committee pushed the ministry of health and family welfare to improve data quality of HIV/AIDS patients being treated at private health facilities. The committee apprehended that the data concerning number of HIV/AIDS cases is only being collected from government hospitals / health institutions and a lot of data from private clinics and private hospitals is not being captured. The committee directed NACO to ensure that no under reporting of HIV/AIDS cases takes place.
India has 2.1 million people living with HIV, the third-largest population of people infected with the virus on the planet, after South Africa and Nigeria, according to the UNAIDS Gap report 2014, which provides data on the global AIDS epidemic and its treatment.