This is an Report of the West Bengal Voluntary Health Association’s project, “HIV/AIDS Mainstreaming in Darjeeling District” sponsored and supported by Mennonite Central Committee India. The Annual Report covers the activities which commenced in April 2015-2016.
WBVHA has been working in the field of HIV/AIDS for more than 2 decades. In partnership with MCC, it has worked in the same field since 2005 with HIV infected/affected people.
The present project worked with 185 families covering 254 positive participants. Of this number 50 are children (28 girls and 22 boys) and 204 adults (114 women and 90 men).
The goal of the project is in line with the present phase of HIV/ AIDS mainstreaming intervention that the Government of India Policy is promoting based on United Nations guidelines. It is significant to note that WBVHA has consistently followed these guidelines in their work in North Bengal. WBVHA, is pioneering the concept of HIV mainstreaming of National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) as well as the UNAIDS.
The focus of the project is to mainstream HIV Positive persons from 200 families of Kurseong and Siliguri Sub-Divisions of Darjeeling district of West Bengal focusing on advocacy and sensitization program along with linkages with different service providers and stakeholders like hospitals, nursing home, educational institutions, religious leaders, political leaders and police personnel. The project also intended to develop their inter-personal skills, Communication skills and capacity to handle the day to day problems and negotiate with different service providers and manage the nutritional aspects through to produce different type of Nutrimix food. Another key reason for this project was to reach out to the population yet unaware of HIV virus and to remove stigma & discrimination.
It is evident that the journey of an HIV Positive person from the time of detection is one that takes them through fear, shame and guilt that is mitigated through education and awareness where they learn about the causes, and receive hope of life through mitigating (antiretroviral?) treatment and disciplined life. Proper support of caregivers and their own compliance with treatment and diet regimen further builds the confidence of the infected person and his/her family and helps bring them back towards the mainstreams of life.
Networking is another final phase in the life of the HIV positive person/ Sero-positive that helps their own mainstreaming. The support of others who have weathered the storm and who can be of support and guide to newly infected persons cannot be replaced and is immensely important.
Efforts are made to enhance social, economic and emotional/psychological wellbeing through mainstreaming interventions.
Goal of the project: (HIV/AIDS Mainstreaming among 200 infected families within the community of Siliguri and Kurseong Sub-Divisions of Darjeeling District within 3 years).
Objective of the Project:
ü Increased skills in counseling and capacity building in income generation programs.
ü Increased awareness through campaign and social rehabilitation for HIV infected people and their family members.
ü Enhanced care and support services to HIV infected people including children.
Target of population: 200 HIV infected Families.
GEOGRAPHICAL COVERAGE: Subdivision: Siliguri Sub Division and Kurseong Sub Division Siliguri Municipal Corporation and Matigara, Phanshidewa, Naxalbari, and Khoribari blocks of Siliguri sub Division and Kurseong Sub Division.
1) Medical Health care & Nutrition
ü Health care delivery, access and affordability of medical treatment, efficacy of medication have improved. However, upcoming new protocols for early treatment will double the number of patients presently receiving ART (Anti Retroviral Treatment/therapy).
ü Inter-personal relations between service providers, project participants and project staff has been positive and mutually beneficial.
ü It is learnt that it is difficult for government to deliver without NGO cooperation and collaboration.
ü Better nutritional status of project participants has been achieved through a mix of providing Nutrimix supplement.
ü Home kitchen gardens, and organic food crop cultivation is been well set in Kurseong as well as in Siliguri.
ü Emergency Medical support provided by the project is not self-sustaining but necessary for vulnerable families especially those living in more remote areas of the hills.
ü On the part of caregivers there are examples of selfless, loving care and responsibility. When both spouses are infected, taking the lead on care giving-taking part usually falls to the women and where the men have complied with medical, diet and lifestyle regimen they are able to maintain good health and happiness in the family.
ü Stigma, fear and guilt, however is still quite evident in that fact that many people (especially in the initial stages) prefer to go to ART centers or ICTC (Integrated Counselling & Testing Centre) clinics far from their homes.
ü Positive participants who are members of the District-level Forum/Network in Kurseong says that out of a total of 90 members in the network, there are about 30 who were still withdrawn, shy and sometimes depressive.
ü ICTC Counselors reported that there is a change in perception and a reduction in fear as wives themselves bring their husbands in for testing. They also said that attitude of medical, paramedical and service providers towards positive patients has improved greatly, though some positive participants said that some medical personnel still exhibited negative attitude.
ü Trust building and relationships through home visits and personal contact still continues to be critical to success of the program and in building confidence among positive persons.
ü At the PPTCT (Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission) Centre we could learn that with improved treatment and evidence of longer life spans, there is growing high risk behavior even among those who are aware under treatment at present. There is growing concern over the increase in the number of HIV positive among students from colleges/university and professional institutions.
ü There is need to mainstream the message that approved and free medical (ART) treatment still continues to be available for all at government hospitals and centers.
ü At private nursing homes the response to the average HIV infected person is mostly discriminatory as their primary concern continues to be profits.
ü Migration, largely a socio-economic issue, has been identified as one of the ongoing problems of both spread and tackling HIV incidence.
ü Of the 35 people who underwent IGP trainings, 8 are self employed and working.
ü As a result of this training along with confidence building through home visits and other programs the people visited seemed happy with their economic conditions. Without expectation all were working – some as housemaids, others as auto or taxi drivers, as masons and carpenters.
ü The Nutrimix production centre is a success as 11 women are engaged directly in manufacturing the product at WBVHA Sebayan Training Centre in Bagdogra in very hygienic manner.
ü The project manages to provide Emergency Medical Assistance to 158 of its Participants.
ü The project manages to provide nutrimix to 33 needy of its Project Participants.
ü The project manages to provide education Support to 34 needy children out of its participants.
4) GOVERNANCE & NETWORKING
ü The long ongoing advocacy and lobbying by the civil society has prompted the Government to issue various Circulars in recent times that provide extra and/or special benefits for HIV positive persons.
ü At present there are two Support Groups (SG) that have been formed in 2015, one in the plains area and one in Kurseong hill area. WBVHA had conducted an awareness program for community women who are also members of SHG units. WBVHA intends to form more such groups. Time, knowledge and resources inputs will be needed to properly nurture them so that they are amply motivated and also capacitated to provide back-up support to PLHIVs.
ü Stakeholders meetings twice a year with the ART Counselor, the PPTCT Counselor, and the ICTC counselor also includes NGOs, BNP+ representatives, journalists and doctors for sharing new changes in the government HIV/AIDS program has helped build awareness as well as good relations.
Mainstreaming of HIV programming has seen the Government promoting and recognizing District level networks of HIV positive persons the pertinent organizations to ractify/recommend/verify HIV infected persons applications for government entitlements. The District networks/forums come under the umbrella of the Bengal Positive Network (BNP+) organisation.
ACTIVITIES ITEMS / ACTIVITY DONE:
1. Conducted follow- up Skill Building Training involving participants of both Plains and Hills.
2. Conducted Advocacy Program involving Religious leaders of Kurseong Sub- division to support the People living with HIV/AIDS within the community.
3. Conducted One Day follow-up Care Givers Training involving the family members of People living with HIV/AIDS.
4. Conducted Follow-up meeting involving NGO’s, CBO’s, CKI’s and youths of both plains and hills to works as key worker to support the PLHIV’s living within the community.
5. Conducted Nutrimix training in Kurseong Sub Division.
6. Provided Emergency Medical Support to the Project Participants.
7. Provided Educational Support to the HIV/AIDS infected/affected children.
8. Provided various trainings related to Health issues, IGP program and Awareness program on HIV/AIDS etc
9. Provided Nutrimix Supplementary food to project participants of both plains and Hills.
10. Conducted awareness program in both Kurseong and Siliguri Sub Division of Darjeeling Dist.
11. Organized World AIDS Day at Kurseong and Siliguri to aware people on HIV/AIDS.
12. Observed Independence Day and observed Swaach Bharat Abhiyan during the Day.
13. Conducted Annual Sports cum Picnic involving all project participants, Children and all Staffs’.
14. We have implemented 5 Organic Kitchen Garden in Hills and Plains.
15. We have also developed a Support Group in Siliguri Sub division and Kurseong Sub Division, to support the PLHIV’s in their own community to overcome Stigma, Discrimination.
16. We also observed Mothers day involving Mothers of Siliguri and Kurseong Sub Division to motivate them towards better life.
17. Observed Republic Day involving PLHIV’s, Project Staffs and FSW’s of Siliguri.
18. Conducted Advocacy Follow- up training for NGO’s, CBO’s, and Religious Leaders of Kurseong Sub- Division.
19. WBVHA participated in Agriculture fair organized by Dept of Agriculture in all 4 sub divisions of Siliguri.
20. International Exposure visit to Philippines for “Peace Building Training” was attended by Mr. Tarun Kr. Maiti Project Director WBVHA NB supported by MCC India on 2015.
21. 1st International Exposure visit to Bangladesh was of great success which was supported by MCC India involving 4 Staff Members of HIV/AIDS Mainstreaming Project and 2 of its Project Participants to implement and adopt new technics of Organic Farming during the month of June 2015.
22. 2nd International Exposure visit to Bangladesh was also of great success which was again supported by MCC India involving 3 staff members and 4 of its Project Participants, to learn on sustainabilty program implemented by MCC Bangladesh for HIV infected people during the month of March 2016.
RESULT OF THE PROJECT:
· We could know more about the status of HIV/AIDS in the project operational area through various Health Providers.
· The result of Nutrimix supplementary food seems to be very fruitful as per the BMI test.
· We could get associated with different government departments, NGO’s, Religious Leaders to work together for betterment of the project.
· We could see the happiness of PLHIV parents and the children when they were jointly participating in the sports with the Non PLHIV’s.
· The training program has helped many PLHIV’s to overcome Trauma and isolation that they were been facing.
· The Participants used to hesitate visiting their houses in the beginning but now they welcome visitors who come from overseas also, we could see the positive changes in them.
· Now the PLHIV’s have gained so much confidence that they can lead a normal life without any support.
NO. OF PEOPLE INVOVED IN THE PROJECT:
4 Staffs including 2 Peer Counselor one for Kurseong and one for Siliguri.
PROJECT SUPPORTED BY: Mennonite Central Committee, India