India's Coalition of AIDS Treatment Access (CATA), a diverse group of civil society partners met with the Prime Minister and urged him to improve access of medical care to HIV/AIDS patients.
The CATA delegation, led by Dr. Chinkholal Thangsing, Asia Pacific Bureau Chief, for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and the President of India Cares, urged the Prime Minister to help improve access to medical care and treatment for HIV and AIDS, including increasing access to both first and second-line lifesaving antiretroviral treatments in India.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Singh said, 'We are taking the issue of treatment for HIV/AIDS patients as a priority, and the provision of second-line treatment will be gradually extended to cover all those in need throughout the country.'
The CATA delegation apprised Dr. Singh about the current HIV/AIDS situation in India and submitted a memorandum requesting universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment and access to second-line treatment for all those in need in India.
The CATA group also presented 10,000 plus letters of appeal by people from across the country for improved treatment access in India.
'We are deeply honoured that CATA was given this opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Singh and share our concerns on behalf of all people living with HIV/AIDS in India and to specifically ask the Prime Minister to intercede with the appropriate government agencies to help minimize bureaucracy and streamline government processes in order that we may achieve universal access to lifesaving HIV/AIDS treatment, including access to second-line therapies, in India,' said Dr. Chinkholal Thangsing.
'This is a positive movement that will create visible changes in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in India,' he added.
The delegation also included Dr. Nochiketa Mohanty, Project Coordinator, AH -- India Cares; Mr. Birendra Soni, Regional Representative of India, Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC), Student World Assembly; Mr. Rakesh Kumar, Secretary, Social Empowerment of Villagers Association (SEVA); Mr. Umesh Gour, President, Confederation of Community Based Organizations (CCBOS); Mr. Amod Dalela, Chief Operating Officer, Saubhagya - All India Foundation of Social Work; Ms. Kamini, Chief Executive Officer, Saubhagya; Mr. Francis D'Mello, President, Love Life Society; Mrs. Asha, Representative, Positive Women; and Mr. Snehansu Bhaduri, a vocal AIDS activist on second-line treatment.
In the CATA Memorandum, which was graciously accepted by the Prime Minister, the delegation also appealed for.
revitalized prevention campaigns that will reach communities at risk and will stop the transmission of the deadly virus.
-- universal access to treatment for all and accessible HIV testing services that will reach all of the communities including rural India;
-- unlimited provision and availability of lifesaving second-line antiretroviral therapy for all needing second line drugs;
-- an increase in access to antiretroviral therapy (ART)treatment centres especially in rural areas as well as - women specific and paediatric treatment centres;
-- an intervention to reduce denial of services on the above grounds to establish a mechanism to bring together government and civil societies including people living with HIV/AIDS to address such issues;
-- intervention to pass HIV/AIDS bill in the Parliament to safe guard and protect the right of people living with HIV/AIDS in India at the earliest;
-- a de-centralised approach to increase responsibility in addressing HIV/AIDS prevention, education, treatment, care and support and asked to make NACO more accountable,
-- transparent and more people friendly in providing comprehensive prevention, treatment and care services for people with HIV/AIDS in India.
The Prime Minister empathised with member of group and assured the delegates that definitive government action will be taken to ensure protection of the well being of people living with HIV/AIDS in India.
CATA is now an 'Active Advocacy Forum' with more than 40 organisations in Delhi and other parts of India as active members.
A few of its primary members among the growing list of organizations include AIDS Healthcare Foundation - India Cares, Student Global AIDS Campaign, World Vision, Love Life Society, Amnesty International India, MITR, SEVA, Saubhagya, CCBOs and many others.