22 July 2010
New Delhi, India
NGOs putting caps on programmes, patients; blame government
SINCE January, Siddharth Vatsyayan has been dipping into his savings and breaking fixed deposits to keep his organisation –AIDS Awareness Group (AAG) –afloat.
After two decades of work with People Living with HIV (PLHIVs), AAG is now winding up its programmes in jails and red–light areas in Delhi as funds dry up.
Organisations like AAG and Naz Foundation, which runs a care home for AIDS orphans, maintain dwindling of funds will lead to an HIV nightmare in the city as field–level agencies close programmes and put caps on patients they can enroll with budgets falling short. “The majority share of international funding goes NACO, which then gives money to state AIDS organisations,” said AAG director Vatsyayan.
While there is no dearth of funding, organisations maintain like all government projects, red tape and wastage on grand conferences and meetings leads to loss. “We are being forced to shut shop because government now contracts the cheapest bidder without looking at the expertise offered by the organisation.
Smaller field–level organisations, that have been working in the community, are being elbowed out because of government dominance,” added Vatsyayan.
In the coming fortnight, AAG will surrender the one–room counselling centre it had occupied in GB Road, thus starting the process of wrapping up their programme in the community.
“There is enough evidence that AIDS treatment and counselling is entwined with other health issues like tuberculosis, Hepatitis and maternal health. Tangible difference cannot be made unless the funding systems are changed.
Most PLHIVs hesitate in going to hospitals and field–level organisations are essential in the battle against HIV,” said Vatsyayan.
The story at Naz Foundation –home to 30 orphan and HIV posi tive children between 2 and 17 years –is the same. “The cost to run this care home is now mostly borne by small, individual donors.
Due to the economic slowdown, global fund faced shortage. The next we realised that only large international NGOs or their Indian branches are getting funds for field level,” said Anjali Gopalan, executive director, Naz Foundation India. Naz recently withdrew from a government project due to ‘policy disagreements’.
“NGOs are important allies as they work in the community. While there has been no scaling down of the budget, I am aware that some NGOs have been facing problems in arranging fund. This is completely done by NACO and the Delhi AIDS Society has very little role to play in who gets how much money,” said Faizi O Hashmi, project director, Delhi State Society for Control Society. 1988 Delhi’s reports first AIDS case 286 Number of cases between 1993 and 1998 32,000 HIV+ persons in Delhi, according to conservative estimates by DSACS 61,600 Female sex workers in Delhi 30,000 Men having sex with men 17,100 Intravenous drug users
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