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PLHIV ask Parliamentary Health Committee Members to ensure Universal Provisions for access to Food Security under the Right to Food Bill and to set up a Focused Parliamentary Committee on TB to better handle the TB/HIV Co-infection


December 1, 2011 - Delhi, India

Recommendations to have a TB and HIV testing centre at every Primary Health Care Centre also handed over ahead of World AIDS Day 2011

Revised National TB Control Programme and National Aids Control Programme should themselves, or through other government departments, come up with additional food security schemes for adult HIV infected TB patients as children and pregnant women can be tracked but not adult HIV infected TB patients

Recommendations based on nationwide consultations, held by Global Health Advocates India, to arrive at PLHIV community feedback, ahead of the next phase of National AIDS Control Policy –NACP 4( 2012-2017) .


People Living with HIV/AIDS(PLHIV) representatives met members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare to share their life stories and also present a charter of recommendations to ensure universal access to treatment and care for those facing both HIV and TB Co-Infection . TB is the leading cause of death among PLHIV. The UNAIDS country report 2010 estimates that 55-60 percent of reported PLHA in India also have TB. As per the report out of 85,000 patients in India with co-infections, only 23 percent are estimated to be on treatment for both HIV and TB.

This special interaction between the PLHIVs and members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, was organized as part of Global Health Advocates (GHA) India’s ongoing effort to train community voices to engage all stakeholders including political. GHA India is a nongovernmental organization that works towards the formulation and implementation of effective public policies to fight disease and ill health in India.

Highlighting the issue of food security, 45 year old Sitaram Saha, from Bihar, told Dr. Monazir Hassan, JDU and Radhey Mohan Singh, Samajwadi Party( both are members of the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare ) his experience regarding contracting HIV and also fighting TB. Sitaram, who has 4 children said that the TB medication makes him very hungry and it was very difficult to afford good nutrition on his low income. The toxicity of the TB medicines affects the nutritional status of PLHIV.

Dr. Monazir Hassan, who is the MP from the same constituency that Sitaram Saha belongs to
(Begusarai, Bihar) expressed his concern for TB and said that in his constituency there are many affected by TB due to the presence of bidi factories.

Mamta Jacob, Advocacy Coordinator for the Global Health Advocates India , said that, “ Food security measures for people with TB and HIV should not be diluted during the parliamentary process on the Right-To-Food (RTF) Bill, so NACO should be both vigilant and proactively advocate with law makers to reinforce the importance of food security for this group. The Revised National TB Control Programme and the National AIDS Control Programme , which are both in the process of being finalized for the next five year phase that will run from 2012-2017, should themselves, or through other government departments, come up with additional food security schemes for adult HIV infected TB patients as children and pregnant women can be tracked but not adult HIV infected TB patients.Unemployed PLHIV, children and adults, malnourished PLHIV on TB treatment and on ART should be linked to the public distribution system (PDS) and other schemes.”

GHA India also briefed Dr. Hassan and Shri. Radhey Mohan Singh about the importance of setting up a separate parliamentary committee on TB to better handle TB and HIV co-infection issues. PLHIV advocates met Dr. Kirit Solanki( BJP) Dr. Monazir Hassan, JDU and Radhey Mohan Singh, Samajwadi Party( all are members of the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare ) in separate meetings on the eve of World AIDS Day to present their point of view and concerns.

33 year old PLHIV advocate, Nisha Mishra, along with other PLHIV shared her experience with HIV and TB with Shri Radhey Mohan Singh, Samajwadi Party, member of the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare. Ms. Mishra who has fought both TB and HIV and lost her HIV positive husband to TB meningitis, shared her moving story of bringing up three children alone. Nisha Mishra also highlighted the issue of food schemes while on TB treatment and said that at times the hunger caused was so intense that she ate mango pickle with water to assuage her hunger, as it was difficult on her low income to afford more food.

Among the recommendation presented to the Standing Committee members are the need for better screening and test for TB among HIV patients. Manta Jacob, Advocacy Coordinator GHA India said ,”That early screening , testing and treatment of HIV patients will help save lives that are being needlessly lost as TB is fully curable among PLHIV. Among the set of recommendation released were to have integrated TB and HIV testing centers at every Primary Health Care centre. “
These TB-HIV Champions , trained by GHA India, will continue to go out into the community and create awareness about the co-infection. As per the Stop TB Partnership one in four deaths among people living with HIV is precipitated by TB. A million lives can be saved by 2015 with tools available right now. All people with HIV need to be screened for TB and receive prompt TB treatment if needed. If they do not have TB, but live in a place where they are vulnerable to catching it, they should receive preventive treatment. By putting these strategies into practice, along with good HIV care, we could save a million lives by 2015.

Under care and treatment of PLHIV, TB is one among the top most issues and GHA India has been working on HIV issues to come together and to develop recommendations specific to TB/HIV co-infections for NACP-IV. Global Health Advocates India held a national consultation among all stakeholders including civil society, People Living with HIV (PLHIV), funding agencies in order to prepare a list of recommendations for the Government of India to consider while planning the next phase of National AIDS Control Programme (NACP IV).

The recommendations shared with the members of the standing committee on health and family welfare have also been handed over to NACO, Central TB Division and the Planning Commission in the last two months. The recommendations include:

-- Intensified HIV Case Finding among TB patients
-- Strengthening Infection Control
-- Early TB diagnosis
-- TB Prevention among PLHIV
-- MDR Prevention and Treatment
-- TB/HIV Cross Referral
-- TB Treatment for PLHIV
-- Healthcare providers’ Training
-- TB treatment in Migrants &Health systems strengthening (HSS)

ABOUT Global Health Advocates India

Global Health Advocates (GHA) India is a non-governmental organization that focuses on engaging all sections of society to fight diseases that disproportionately affect people living in poverty, and are also causes of people living in poverty. In particular, Global Health Advocates India works towards the formulation and implementation of effective public policies to fight disease and ill health in India. GHA India is a partner of The Advocacy to Control Tuberculosis Internationally (ACTION) project, an international partnership of advocacy organisations working in 8 countries (India, USA, Canada, UK, France, Japan, Australia and Kenya.)to mobilize political will and resources to treat and prevent the spread of tuberculosis (TB), a global disease that kills one person every 20 seconds.

Source: Business Wire India

BusinessWireIndia

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