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One of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is to control the spread of HIV/AIDS. This puts a continuing concern on improving health services. Many projects are run by the government to address these concerns effectually. One such program is operation of ICTCs/STIs/ART centres in government hospitals. These centres have been successful in providing pre and post test counselling through trained counsellors to the individual/s coming for HIV screening. However, there are many challenges and barriers faced at bot Institution (Hospitals and Health workers) and community level (community members).
A standard approved size room is given to counsellors for their work. However, at some of the ICTCs/STIs the counsellors are facing troubles in carrying out their work in the given space. The problems range from room given at one far end of the building, electricity/store room being converted into counselling room, room given at first/higher floors, absence of proper waiting area outside the counseling room etc. This could be taken care if room is allotted after making sure it is easily accessible, comfortable as well as guards the privacy of visitor.
The counsellors at almost all the ICTCs/STIs have to bear the burden of administrative issues. These range from low salary amount, delayed salary payments, petty politics at the workplace (at some centres), absence/delayed supply of essential work material like Kits for STI counselling. These problems could result in burnout of counsellor. Hence the concerned authorities should maintain the SOP strictly so as to enable counsellors to do their work effectively. Apart from these, often the counsellors have deal with the interference and pressure from local authorities (local leader/s, group/s etc.) in their work.
In the state of Uttarakhand, in the areas at great altitude most of the ICTCs/STIs counsellors have less patient’s visits. This is mainly due to absence of specialist doctors and specialised services in the hospitals at these places. The provision of these would mean more patients visiting the centre.
The minimum qualification for counsellor’s job is bachelor’s degree. Hence some counsellors are neither from psychology/sociology/social work background, nor received any training in counselling. Some of them lack even the basic skills of counselling. This could be addressed by making either the aforesaid subjects or a training/experience of counselling compulsory for applying for the post. The newly appointed counsellors should be allotted centres only once they have completed induction training. In Indian society HIV/AIDS is still considered to be a taboo issue. Though the counselors are trained, some of them have their own prejudice. Often they are not sensitive and have indifferent attitude towards the sero-positive individuals. This could lead to patients getting discouraged about coming for treatment. Hence, providing trainings to sensitize health workers is utmost importance for success.
The sero –positive patients could avail ART medicines from the Link ART centres. However, their number is less in Uttarakhand, so more number of such centres would be beneficial for community as this would provide access to necessary medicines to the concerned person without many troubles. Patient load is high at some centres, which results in limited counselling period so taking up significant points can make session effective. Additional workload like filling of many formats daily apart from report to be submitted to concerned authorities is another issue, which could be dealt promptly with following proper work plan.
Distance is one major problem, which restricts people from accessing the health facilities. Finance is another issue which requires attention. Most of the people are poor in terms of finance hence lack both money and time (since they could utilize that time for work) to visit the facilities until their health issue becomes dead serious. Promoting NGOs/local groups to work would help people like providing vehicle support for reaching health facility
The community care centre (CCC) for sero-positive patients is not present at local levels hence a sero-positive individual who is at Srinagar in the state has to come down to Dehradun to avail the service. Also availability of seats at such centre is another issue.
HIV/AIDS is still a taboo subject, so there is a hesitation among community members to seek help like visiting health facilities for fear of character judgement or being out casted from community. There is absence/lack of complete and correct information on the subject. This results in people believing in many myths and misconceptions and often not approaching health facility for timely treatment. All this could be successfully answered by sensitizing community on the subject. This could be done through awareness campaigns, street plays, informative wall paintings etc. Involvement of community head and Panchayat members would also prove to be fruitful.
Supriya Chand was a student of e-learning course in Public Health Management(ePHM) conducted by Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, India.
Disclaimer: IPH blogs provide a platform for ePHM students to share their reflections on different public health topics. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and not necessarily represent the views of IPH.
Dr.Vijayashree Yellappa,Faculty at IPH attended meeting for WHO-TDR at Accra Ghana, from 12-16 October 2015
WHO’s Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) is co-sponsored by UNICEF, UNDP, the World Bank and WHO. Its main objective is to “strengthen capacity for health research in the control of neglected tropical diseases, tuberculosis and malaria and result in tangible health impact“.
IPH was one among the 26 IMPACT Grants awardees from among 23 low- and middle-income countries. IPH Research Project aims to “optimise the involvement of private sector in National TB Programme, in Tumkur district, India.
The IMPACT grants scheme is designed to optimize Interventions, Methods, Policies, Actions, Campaigns or Tools for improved health and well-being of those burdened by malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The goal is to promote a research culture within disease control programmes, stimulate demand for research, improve ability to conduct high quality research and use results effectively.
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Dr N. Devadasan was invited by the ITM Antwerp to help coach their MPH students on local health systems. He was there for the whole month of Sept 2015.
It was a great learning opportunity as he was able to interact with health professionals from 25 different countries (4 continents).
Recently food security provisions in India has improved and not surprisingly the country is operating one of the largest food safety nets in the World. However regarding figures related to malnutrition particularly chronic malnutrition, the country is at very poor level. There are many challenges in implementation of food security schemes which hinders achieving desired outcomes of reducing malnutrition and the benefits reaching the actual poor.
Link to Manoj’s blog in Global Food Security….Click here
After successfully managing three consecutive batches for the online course in Public Health Management (e-PHM), we kick started the fourth batch on 19th of August 2015. This batch brings along with it 31 amazing students from diverse backgrounds working across the country and internationally as well!
For the first time, we have five participants from Universitas of Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta who are working in the department of public health. The diverse work backgrounds of the participants include UNICEF, National Institute of Epidemiology, St.John’s Research Institute, Bangalore Baptist Hospital, Department of Environmental Science and various NGOs like JANANI and SAATHI.
We also have participants who are pursuing their PG in the field of community medicine and hospital & healthcare management. The course consists of eight modules and each module consists of four units. Each unit will have one to two classrooms that is a PowerPoint presentation with audio recording and corresponding exercises. Each module ends with a final module test based on the content covered. The students are expected to complete these units and based on their completion we are presenting their progress. Based on the feedback provided, this new batch has new features to make the learning experience more interesting and fun. Keeping in mind the work backgrounds of our participants who have to travel constantly and have limited internet access, we have introduced a new feature called “Learn on the go”. This feature allows them to download MP3 versions of our classrooms and listen to them on the go! Out of 31 students, 30 have logged in and viewed our course. The number of students who have managed to complete Module – 1 are 19, which is about 61% of the total students.
We are currently in the process of identifying any challenges faced by the participants and address them as we move forward in the course. We look forward to providing a good learning experience to the participants!