AIDS Helpline Only Rings on Paper: RTIGovt
Pune: The priority of the State government to fight AIDS can be measured by the fact that it’s authorised helpline to provide information about the deadly disease has been closed down for the last seven years.
The toll–free helpline 1097 on HIV/AIDS that was launched by the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) in 1999 has been out of service since last seven years even though advertisements about the facility are regularly being published on various vernacular newspapers, claimed a city–based NGO Samvad.
Making you know and talk about AIDS (Samvad), a voluntary initiative by city–based non–government organisation Maitri, has been working for the cause of HIV and AIDS awareness since the last three years. It also runs a helpline 25460102.
Kishore Dhage, a volunteer of Samvad helpline, filed an application under RTI Act seeking information about government’s initiative for AIDS control. The reply to the application that was filed in August was received last month. It stated that the 1097 helpline has been closed due to some technical problems.
“Considering the need to organise educational and awareness programmes on HIV/ AIDS along with counselling by experts, there should be a government–run helpline also. The MSACS has been established for control of HIV/AIDS. Then why the annual budget has been spent on advertisements of a helpline which does not exist?” Kishore asked.
When contacted, the MSACS officials said that the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) would soon launch a new service with the same number which would be same countrywide. However, when asked about publishing of advertisements, the project director of MSACS, P R Sabde, pledged ignorance saying that currently he is on election duty at Rajasthan and unaware about status of helpline.
Despite being dissatisfied with the shutting down of helpline, the volunteers of Samvad helpline are firm on following the matter seriously.
Monday, Jan 23rd
Last update:05:44:44 AM IST