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Prayas Health Group

Prayas Health Group
PRAYAS (Initiatives in Health, Energy, Learning and Parenthood) is a public charitable trust, which was registered in 1994. A group of medical and engineering professionals established this non–government organization (NGO) with a mission to apply their professional knowledge and skills to understand the issues afflicting society and to make efforts to address these issues through appropriate and sensitive strategies especially in the areas of health, energy, resources and livelihood as well as learning and parenthood.
The belief behind our efforts is that even the most marginalized people can be empowered to tackle their own problems, if they are provided with sound analysis and appropriate support.

Currently there are three active groups of PRAYAS: PRAYAS Health Group (PHG), PRAYAS Energy Group (PEG) and PRAYAS Resources and Livelihoods Group (ReLi). PRAYAS Health group works mainly in the area of HIV/AIDS and sexuality.

A Brief History of PRAYAS Health Group
In the context of HIV/AIDS in India almost all the sections of society are deprived of essential information, knowledge and opportunities. In a sense, the whole society seems marginalized. Therefore, reaching out to people from different sectors, e.g. literate and illiterate, men and women, people from slums and from richer strata, students in schools and colleges, street children, children in institutions, school and university teachers, industrial workers, doctors, social workers, workers in organized and unorganized sector, etc. were the initial challenges. Dr. Vinay Kulkarni and Dr. Sanjeevani Kulkarni started the work in the area of HIV/AIDS and sexuality in 1986, as an individual initiative and tried to reach out to all mentioned above.

In 1989, Vinay happened to diagnose his first HIV patient at his private clinic (Amrita Clinic). It was quite surprising and thought provoking to have HIV infected patient at the private clinic in just three years after the first case was diagnosed in India. That patient happened to have got infected through a blood transfusion in rural Maharashtra sometime in early 80’s. This was a stark realization of the likely spread of HIV/AIDS by then and depth of its impact in store. Soon many groups started to feel the need for their training to conduct awareness programs. Vinay and Sanjeevani started conducting numerous trainings for such organizations.

The organization PRAYAS was formally launched in 1994. As the epidemic evolved, other activities like clinical and counseling care center, information center were started at PRAYAS. PRAYAS Health group has expanded steadily. It undertook several projects, which led to its overall development and growth. As work increased so did the outreach and the staff of PRAYAS. The individual efforts of two doctors grew surely and steadily into a big family that would stand firmly in the fight against the HIV epidemic.

Important milestones
  • From the year 1995, research projects on the topics that needed systematic exploration and advocacy started taking shape. (Various completed projects are enlisted below.)
  • Year 2002, was a turning point for PHG. An intervention program for prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) was started with support from Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. This was our first full–size project that gave a reasonable shape to the group. The program is now running for 6 years and has grown substantially to become India’s largest private sector initiative.
  • All these years Amrita Clinic (which was Vinay’s private clinic) continued providing clinical care to HIV infected people. Though Amrita clinic and PHG were independent bodies, their work was interdependent. Since same people were working on same issues in two independent structures, the amalgamation of these was inevitable and also beneficial for the organization. In January 2006, Amrita Clinic was merged with PHG to form PRAYAS Amrita Clinic, an independent activity of PHG.
Services Provided by PRAYAS Health Group
These are the services provided by PRAYAS Health Group:
  • Conducting training and awareness programs in communities, schools, colleges, industries, and various other groups and organizations.
  • Outpatient treatment of individuals infected with HIV, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and others issues related to their sexual behavior, sexual performance and other concerns related to sexuality.
  • Outpatient treatment for HIV infected children
  • Dissemination of the information through establishment of AIDS Networking and Information Center.
  • Care, support and resource development services for individuals with HIV as well as their family members.
  • Counseling services for the individuals with or with a suspicion of HIV infection and their family members.
  • Counseling services for pregnant women regarding ante–natal care, HIV testing during pregnancy and PMTCT services if tested positive for HIV.
  • Laboratory testing of all essential tests for HIV diagnosis and monitoring at subsidized costs.
Completed Projects

Sr. No. Name of the project Start Date End Date Supported by
1. Perceived Morbidity & Dynamic of Women’s Health in Low Income Areas of Maharashtra, India.  1995 1996 Karina Kielmann (of Johns Hopkin’s University)
2. Networks, Language and Sexual Behaviors of Men Who Have Sex With Men in an Urban Setting: A research study 1999 2000 Ford Foundation
3. Women and AIDS: Issues, concerns, responses and coping November 2000 January 2001 GTZ India
4. People with HIV: Stigma, Coping and Support Systems November 2001 October 2002 NIMHANS (through small grants program of Ford Foundation)
5. Development of a model for provision of care and support services to HIV infected children attending specialized HIV clinic – as a part of fellowship program of Dr. Ritu Parchure January 2005 January 2006 CMC, Vellore
6. Catch them young– Training of Medical Interns May 2005 Jan 2007 n(o)vib, Oxfam Netherlands.
7. Assessing the Knowledge Level among Pregnant Women regarding Antenatal Care. July
2007
August 2007 Kanya Balkrishna (Yale University) (as part of summer training)


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