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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

      

VASAI Shows the Way: Vasai Region AIDS Control Society VRACS

Responds to the call of the Prime Minister of the Nation Elected Leaders Forum against HIV/ AIDS in Vasai ELFA On the 14th of Aug. The Eve of Indian Independence Under the leadership of Shree Hitendra Thakur
Member of legislative assembly, Vasai Assembly Constituency

Background: At the end of 2002, the estimated HIV infected population in India is at 4.58 million; a significant leap from the 3.97 million in 2001. Of this 61.5% are males. Pregnant women account for a full 1 percent of the infected population, a clear indication of the movement of the epidemic into the general population.

New Delhi, In response to the need for urgent action against HIV/AIDS the Parliamentary Forum on HIV/AIDS organized the first-ever National Convention for elected representatives in New Delhi from 26-27 July. The Convention was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and has brought together over 500 political leaders from across the country, including ministers, parliamentarians, legislators, and mayors.

"This Convention is a historic event," said Dr Piot. "Never before, in any nation of the world, has there been such a large and committed gathering of leaders from every level of decision-making, dedicated to the common cause of fighting AIDS."  Political leadership is a vital tool in turning back the epidemic. By holding the Convention, India has become a model for other nations in the region,

 



The Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee called upon elected representatives to generate strong political will to combat HIV/AIDS and carry this message from national and state levels to district and village levels. The Prime Minister said that the fight against HIV/AIDS requires greater political commitment and requires leadership that is ready to go to heart of the problem and even go against the stream of public opinion. In his inaugural speech on the occasion here today, Shri Vajpayee stressed the need for a solid partnership between all sections of society, including the political establishment.

The Background of VRACS: VRACS is a sole private sector modeled project of collaboration between Kripa Foundation, India and CHART-INDIA, An Indo American initiative of the University of South Florida. It is a comprehensive clinico-community project based on a Model of being a "NICE PROGRAM FOR SMART SERVICE" (Networked Initiatives by Community Empowerment Program For Surveillance, & Management of cases along with, Awareness, Research and Treatment Service).

Vision and Mission Statement: VRACS attempts to visualize Vasai as a controlled zone for HIV and co-infection. This model attempts at implementing various public health projects by networking to care and control this epidemic by community empowerment. VRACS sees itself to be a nationally replicable model in the private sector with a large community participating base, which supports this integrated Clinico-Community system.

Goals and Objectives
· To create an integrated and comprehensive Clinico-Community program.
· To maintain this system by community empowerment and participation.
· To diagnose via a properly Counseled and Confidential system.
· To create a continuous awareness program for clinicians and community which is run by both the clinicians and the community.
· To create a Clinical Care Center for treating and caring for patients with HIV and Infections. This will offer coordinated care and specialized care if needed.
·To create surveillance systems, which monitors the changing trends in the epidemic and acts as a national indicator for the disease.
· To develop a prevention and care initiative for children
· To include research into every project it undertakes either on social or on the clinical front.
 
 

 

Why Vasai?: Some of the salient features supporting the need in Vasai are-
a. Vasai lies in Thane district, which is a declared a high prevalence zone for HIV in Maharashtra.
b. There is lack of initiatives in this zone to tackle HIV / AIDS.
c. There is no surveillance of Infectious diseases like HIV /AIDS.
d. There is a lack of knowledge about caring for HIV Positives.
e. There is no care and support for women and children with HIV.
f. The public is grossly unaware and misinformed.
g. Clinical knowledge is efficiently lacking for treating HIV positive subjects.
h. The public sector hardly participates in any public health projects.
i. There are a growing number of colleges and so inadvertently the numbers of educated youth are also increasing thus sighting an increased need for awareness and a greater chance of success with any awareness project.
j. There are large populations of medical Practitioners who are a part of the local chapter of the Indian Medical association (IMA).
k.. This clinical population does come across HIV positive individuals on a routine basis, however lacks the training and capacity to provide care and support.
l. There is considerable prevalence of high-risk behaviors specially that of alcohol consumption and commercial sex work.
m. There is no other organization in the region specifically dealing with HIV and related issues.

Ms. Tasneem Raja
Project Director
VRACS: Kripa Foundation
E-mail: <tasraja@vsnl.com>