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National Rural Health Mission

Five years of The National Rural Health Mission was commemorated on the 12th April 2010 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The Hon'able Shri.M.Hamid Ansari, Vice-President of India was Chief Guest on the occasion.

Awards to the best performing states for implementing NRHM were handed to the States of Assam, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Mizoram, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh followed by the release of two documents.

Coporate Responses to Tuberculosis challenges in India

The newly formed civil society partnership for Tuberculosis Care and Control in India coordinated a workshop with the National TB Programme, the National Reference Laboratory, World Health Origanization India Country Office and Becton Dickinson India which addressed the 'Corporate Response to TB Care and Control' in the country. Participants included several large corporate houses and industry bodies like the Confederation for Indian Industry (CII). Representatives from the media had an opportunity to interact with participants. Several corporates have already joined the Partnership and support civil society in TB control efforts.

Asian People's alliance for combating HIV/AIDS(APACHA), India chapter has been launched

A number of civil society actors gathered together in Mumbai from 12th - 13th, Feb, 2009 to explore possibilities in creating common space for joint actions towards developing a multisectoral HIV response in India. Representatives from Mumbai, Delhi, Karnataka, Orissa, Bangalore, Pune, Bihar, Patna, Kohlapur, Nagpur, Chhenai, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Chhatisghar and Manipur participated in the people's conference. Most of these representatives represented networks and organizations of their respective states. Members from INGOs, media and grassroots level networks, APACHA International Secretariat and APACHA Executive Committee were also present.

The Conference formally launched APACHA India. APACHA India will be the representative body of Asian People's Alliance for Combating HIV&AIDS (APACHA) in India which is a Federation of multisectoral Civil Society response to HIV & AIDS.

An Executive Committee was formed to facilitate APACHA India and its functions. Dr. Ashok Rau will lead the team as the chair for next one year. Other members in the team are: Vice- President Noori Saleem, Vice-President Dr. Boby John, Secretary- Mathew Mattam, Joint Secretary-Sanghamitra Iyengar, Joint Secretary- Namita Nanda, Treasurer - Dr.Sanjeev Kumar. The conference has decided to initiate APACHA India processin each state of India within next six months.

Mr Mathew Mattam in his welcome speech said, 'In India, though APACHA initiatives were taking place since 2004, there were several ups and downs. Finally, we the Indian civil society members are happy to formally launch APACHA India which will be connected at the states and grassroots level. It will be a part of APACHA International. This process will strengthen civil society members coming together for a cause.' He also mentioned about alliance building meeting of APACHA in Pune in 2007 where a number of participants were willing to be part of APACHA. 'Based on people's aspirations APACHA India is finally launched', added Mathew.

APACHA India has also finalized a resolution to submit to NACO and has asked them to be serious in some of the issues such as, increasing remuneration for peer outreach workers, establishing a multisectoral exploratory working group with meaningful & expanded grass-root level representation, exploring the appropriate direction of NACP 4. APACHA India expressed, 'We are concerned about the recent letter from the GF to the CCM to cut the fund proposal across the programs by 10%. We strongly feel the need for the Global Fund to apply the principles of equity while calling to reduce resource allocation. Resources addressing the weakest and most vulnerable should not be the target of resource reduction. We request the Global Fund secretariat to also come out with plans for reducing administrative cost of the Fund by outsourcing the non core operation of the Global Fund and renegotiating the fees paid to the LFA and consultants. This process should be transparent and accountable.

Acknowledging the efforts of NACO in responding to the epidemic, they further asked NACO to be more serious about Multisectoral approach and be practical about the need of PLHIV, their treatment, care and support. Addressing the conference, Dr. Joe Thomas, Chairperson of APACHA International said, 'This is high time for Indian civil society to come together and take joint action.' He further added, 'Civil society as the legitimate and strong force has capacity to provide alternatives and support the government initiatives as well. Within these contexts, APACHA India will be a milestone in creating a common space for every one to have their say and take collective action to combat HIV&AIDS in India.'

Mr. Prabodh Devkota, Asia Coordinator of APACHA International shared his experiences in building APACHA as a vibrant network of Asia. Addressing the mass he said, 'We have practically experienced and witnessed that people can be mobilized and multisectoral approach is possible.' He added, 'It is true that we had a tough time to make things happen, nonetheless it has been possible. With our collective dreams, collective passion, and political will to make change happen, we have proved that things can be changed. But the fact is that there are still more challenges and this is just the beginning of the journey.' He said, 'The beginning of APACHA India is going to be a milestone for APACHA in its attempts to address the causes and consequences of the epidemic in Asia'.

The conference was focused to critically revisit the ongoing efforts to address the epidemic in India, identify gaps and to address them. It also highlighted about the ongoing HIV&AIDS initiatives at the Asia level. Participants also expressed their serious concern about the impact of possible economic crisis and warned the government and donors that the economic crisis should not be an excuse for them to turn away from the promises they have made.

Based on the discussion, APACHA India has also developed its interim plan of action. Towards the end, on behalf of the newly elected APACHA team, Dr. Ashok Rau said, 'As the first elected team of APACHA India, we would like to express our commitment to strengthen APACHA India processes and to play an important and critical role towards addressing the epidemic effectively in India.' He further said, 'We are really happy to be part of one of the largest people's networks of Asia'.

Correspondence from Mumbai, APACHA News Desk

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