Medical fraternity urged to display more concern to PLWHAs

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New Delhi, Nov 15 (UNI) Alleging hightened discrimination against HIV infected women and children by the medical fraternity, Positive Women Network (PWN) today put forward some ''recommendations'' urging the government to take urgent remedial measures.

At a public hearing here the PWN said there is an alarming increase in stigma and discrimination against People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) by the health care providers in almost all parts of the country.

They cited an instance where a man had no alternative but to deliver the baby of his HIV positive wife at the government hospital in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.

A woman who had gone to the Kalyani Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital, in Nadia, in West Bengal, for pregnancy related problems was moved to an isolated bed and a sticker marking her as an HIV positive was stuck to her head.

In another case, a woman had to deliver her baby in the bathroom with the assistance of her mother as the senior doctors refused to respond and junior doctors were reluctant to treat her.

Malini Bhatacharya of the National Commission for Women also expressed concern over the discrimination of women and expressed the need to form a committee to ensure that the work of health care providers is carried out in a transparent manner.

The committee could be a group comprising members from the NHRC, NCW, doctors, experts and activists, she said.

And any recommendations for better treatment of PLWHAs, the Commission would examine and forward the ''recommendations'' to the government, she added.

An official of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) emphasised on the need for practical actions by bringing forward concrete cases and also stressed on legislation.

Meanwhile, the National AIDS Control Organisation's (NACOs) said its policy statement has also taken note of the ,''Governments serious concern at instances of denial of medical treatment by doctors in nursing homes and hospitals which causes enhanced stigmatization to PLWHAs.

A recent reality check conducted by PWN found disparity between the government response and the realities on the ground.

While some differences can be seen in the attitude of doctors and other senior health care professionals, sensitisation of doctors and health care providers and para medical staff remains limited to ICTC, STD, PPTCT and ART centres.

In many health care centres, pre and post-test counselling is not carried out according to the guidelines that are laid down by NACO and the HIV status of patients are publicly displayed in wards leading to further isolation of the individual.

Even now in many hospitals and other centres where PLWHA come for treatment, basic needs such as gloves, post exposure prophylaxix and sterile needles were not provided.

Access to accurate knowledge and information is need of the hour now as many councellors and doctors and health care professionals continue to look at HIV as a death sentence and not as a chronic manageable illness.

This was the kind of information one got ten years ago from health care providers but even after all these years the situation remain mora or less the same in many places.

PWN with the support of National commission for Women organised the public hearing. The network was initiated in October 1998 by women living with HIV who felt the need for the organisation that would provide a support mechanism and children living with HIV/aids all over the country.

The hearing was attended by twenty women living with HIV from eight states and union territories providing first hand accounts of the discrimination they face in public and privtae health settings.

UNI

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